The Crazy Kitchen: September 2013

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Monday, 30 September 2013

Name that Apple?

A few years ago we bought a small apple tree, complete with apples, from a local nursery. Over the last few years that tree has more than paid for itself with the apples that it's produced, and this year we had a bumper crop, including some very big ones.

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Unfortunately the name of the variety of apple is a mystery to us. When we bought it there was a label attached to the tree but over the years it must have snapped and fallen off, and I can't remember for the life of me what the name was - I do think it had 'pink' in the name though.

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The skin is a deep red and the flesh is crisp and juicy, and a little tart.

If anyone has any ideas or can point me in the direction of finding out the name of our delicious apples please let me know.

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I've recently been sent some gorgeous Joseph Joseph chopping boards by Debenhams which are perfect to use as a backdrop for photographs either on their own or with fabric draped over. They are pretty damn attractive to look at too. They are priced at £75 which is a little more than I would normally pay for chopping boards but I'm hoping these will last for a very long time.

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Futuristic Fluff - a Foodie disaster?

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September 2013: London was a bustling metropolis last week as London Fashion  Week came to town, with models including Cara Delevingne and Jordan Dunn out in  full force, flaunting the latest styles to hit the catwalks.  

Whilst many of the  trends were beautiful, the move to everyday wear can seem a step too far. To put  this to the test, Kenco Millicano decided to trial some of the Autumn/Winter  high fashion trends, from goth glam to snow queen, to see just how wearable they  are in everyday life. 

Working with a designer from the University of Creative Arts, Kenco Millicano  recreated the stunning looks of this season exclusively for four women who wore  the creations for a full day - from breakfast ‘til bed time. 

Red carpet-proof they may be, but the trials proved when it comes to picking up  the kids, going to work or attempting to make dinner, it’s better to stick to  your trusted essentials and invest in a quality cup of coffee like Kenco  Millicano instead! Made from a clever combination of instant coffee and  finely-milled beans, it gives coffee lovers the convenience of instant, with the  taste reminiscent of roast and ground coffee; it’s the perfect pick me up after  a busy day- whether that’s cat walking or looking after the kids. Alexandra Bryan from Kenco Millicano said “We may lust after the LFW designs,  but as our trials proved, in reality the clothes just can’t handle a busy  woman’s life. So forget the stares, chuck the clothes in the wash and seek a  little solace with a cup of Kenco Millicano. After all, when your coffee’s this  good, nothing else has to be!”  

For the chance to win your very own bespoke outfit based on the biggest Autumn  Winter trends, visit 

I was sent an outfit and Kenco Millicano for the purpose of this post

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Quality Street Green Triangle Desserts {review}

Quality Street have a new dessert out, based on 'The Green Triangle' from the Quality Street tins. I was a little dubious as to whether the kids would like them as although they are chocolate and chocolate in most forms is enjoyed in this household, they are also flavoured with hazelnut. It would all depend on how apparent the taste of hazelnut was.

On the particular day that the desserts arrived I was making treats in preparation for a Halloween project that I was working on and one of the treats was 'mousse filled witches hats'. Instead of making my own mousse the desserts seemed like an ideal consistency for what I needed.

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As soon as the children arrived home from school the witches hats were devoured, followed by extra pots of the Green Triangle desserts. Personally I can't taste hazelnut in the desserts, to me they taste like a creamy chocolate custard, and delicious. At 153 calories per pot they are a nice little occasional treat. 

We were also sent some games to play whilst enjoying the desserts, and KerPlunk has to be Jack's new favourite game. I haven't played it for years and it's one of the games that we never owned as kids so we've spent lots of time having fun with it. Jack was rolling around the floor in hysterics watching me trying to fill the tower with marbles but instead they all came tumbling out.

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We were sent the desserts and games for the purpose of this review

The Best Toastie...EVER

A couple of weeks ago I attended a cooking event in London hosted by Warburtons. It was all about the sandwich and ways to be creative and make them more exciting, whether it be open or closed, brown or white, toasted or not.

There was a huge amount of ingredients to choose from, fresh meats and cheeses, fruits and vegetables and all the condiments you could dream of (well almost), along with Warburtons square(ish) wraps and sandwich thins

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Our challenges were to create sandwiches, using the ingredients available, along the themes of 'flavour pairings', 'British with a twist' and 'International sandwiches'. There were some really interesting combinations and flavours created, including chocolate & bacon (oddly nice), mango salsa and roast beef, fish & chips to name a few.

My sandwiches were :

  • Hot peppers, beef and chocolate
  • Cheese & Pickle with a twist - Mozzarella and Lime Pickle
  • Brie, Walnut, Honey & Rocket
  • PB & J stack - with a twist as there was no jam so I used cranberry sauce instead, which is a good alternative at Christmas!
  • My all time favourite toastie - Banana, Cheese, Chilli & Mango Chutney. This may sound very odd but it is amazing and one that I eat quite often. It was met with scepticism at first but one bite changed their minds and amazingly it was awarded first prize!
I even managed to convince the taxi driver that it was the best toastie ever and he said he couldn't wait to get home and make one.

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The following day, armed with some Warburtons square wraps I made one for my lunch. If you do fancy being brave and trying it for yourself you will need the following :

2 slices of bread or square wrap
1 banana, sliced
cheddar cheese, sliced
a few slices of fresh chilli (or dried chilli flakes)
Mango chutney
  • Lay the ingredients onto one slice of bread or on 1/3 of the wrap
  • Lay another slice of bread on top, or fold the wrap over to enclose the ingredients
  • Place in a sandwich toaster, panini press or in a frying pan and cook until the cheese has melted
  • Enjoy!
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I received expenses to allow me to attend the event, as well as some samples

Friday, 27 September 2013

Nutella Iced Buns

I love it that Great British Bake Off have another dough week. Week 2 was all about bread and now we have tea loaf, couronnes and sweet buns, it couldn't get any better than that! Bread making, in my opinion, is a little bit addictive. Unlike lots of other baking it can also be very cheap - flour, yeast, touch of sugar, salt and water and you're there, cheap as chips.

Many say that they also find it very therapeutic. I can't really say that as I mostly use my food mixer to knead my dough. I keep promising that I'll make a loaf one day without the mixer but never seem to find the time.

I've already made some sticky buns for this week's Great Bloggers Bake Off but they were eaten in a flash so I thought I would make some iced buns, with a Nutella topping instead of icing.

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Nutella Iced Buns - makes 10

500g Strong White Bread Flour
50g Butter, softened
50g Caster sugar (add up to 100g for a sweeter bun)
7g Yeast
Pinch salt
225ml milk
1 egg

2 heaped tbsp of Nutella
freshly boiled water
  • Mix the ingredients together with your hands or in a food mixer until they all come together
  • Knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth
  • Place in a large bowl & cover with clingfilm to prove for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. This may be quicker or take longer depending on the temperature of your room.
  • Once the dough has risen tip out onto a floured surface & divide into 10 equal pieces - I weighed the dough & calculated the weight of 10 equal amounts which worked out to 82g each.
  • Roll each piece into a fat sausage shape and place on a greased baking sheet
  • Cover & leave to prove for another hour
  • Bake in a preheated 200 C oven for approx 15 minutes until golden brown
  • Allow to cool before icing
  • Mix the Nutella with a small amount of hot water a little at a time until it's thin enough to spread over the buns but thick enough to stay put.
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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes

Dr Oetker is currently hosting a chocolate cupcake competition where entrants will be in with a chance of winning a trip for two to New York. You can find further details of The Great Chocolate Bake here.

I made my first batch of these chocolate cupcakes when I made my Mocha cupcakes. The cake is lovely and light and very moist and chocolatey. I mentioned before that now I've tried this recipe I don't think I will be baking any other kind of chocolate cupcake in the future and will instead experiment with fillings and toppings.

This time I decided to go with a chocolate cheesecake type of frosting with a juicy Morello cherry inserted into the middle of the cake, and topped off with some chocolate chunks.

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Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes - makes approx 12

100ml boiling water
35g Cocoa powder
190g Caster Sugar
115g Plain Flour
3/4 tsp Baking powder
3/4 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Egg
60ml Sunflower oil
125ml Milk

Cheesecake Frosting & decoration
100g Dr Oetker Fine Cooks Chocolate - extra dark, melted & cooled slightly
200g Full fat cream cheese
40g Icing sugar
Morello cherries
Dr Oetker milk chocolate chunks
  • Mix the water and cocoa powder together until smooth
  • Stir the remaining dry ingredients together in a large bowl
  • Beat in the egg, sunflower oil, milk & chocolate, mix for 2 minutes until smooth
  • The batter will be quite thin but that's ok
  • Ladle into the cupcake cases until 2/3 full
  • Bake in a 180 C oven for approx 18-20 minutes, until springy to the touch
  • Allow the cakes to cool fully on a wire rack
  • Make the frosting by beating the cream cheese, chocolate & icing sugar together
  • Using an apple corer or spoon cut the centre out of each cake and pop a cherry in before replacing the piece of cake
  • Decorate the cupcakes with the frosting and chocolate chunks
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I was sent some Dr Oetker products to use in my baking

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Great Bloggers Bake Off - week 6 - Maple & Banana Sticky Buns

I believe we are now over halfway through this series of Great British Bake Off and this week saw the bakers making Sweet Dough.

Fruit Loaf, twisted Couronne, and show stopping European sweet buns. It started of badly with under proved signature bakes but they all went on to do well in the technical challenge. There were some fab looking European sweet buns and Howard's peachy buns looked great *snigger*. Unfortunately they weren't as good as they looked and his time was up and he got sent home.....

I love cinnamon buns and have made them quite a lot in the past. This time I thought I would use the same dough recipe and try a different filling...these were lovely soft buns with a sticky filling and they didn't last 5 minutes...
I should really have used a bigger tin though as they rose so much and got a little squashed!

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Maple & Banana Sticky Buns - makes 12

500g Strong White Bread Flour
50g Butter, softened
50g Caster sugar
7g Yeast
Pinch salt
225ml milk
1 egg

50g butter, melted
50g sultanas
2 bananas, sliced lengthways & then into thin slices
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp water

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  • Mix the ingredients together with your hands or in a food mixer until they all come together
  • Knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth
  • Place in a large bowl & cover with clingfilm to prove for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. This may be quicker or take longer depending on the temperature of your room. If you have a very cold room you can speed the process up by placing the bowl over a pan of freshly boiled water (make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).
  • Once the dough has risen tip out onto a floured surface & roll out into a square
  • Brush generously with melted butter
  • Scatter over the sultanas
  • Mix together the chopped bananas, mixed spice & maple syrup & spread over the dough
  • Roll the dough up tightly & slice into 12 equal pieces
  • Place in a greased baking tin & brush over the remaining melted butter
  • Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and caster sugar
  • Leave to prove for another hour
  • Bake in a preheated 200 C oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown
  • Mix together 1 tbsp Maple syrup & 1 tbsp water in a small pan
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes until syrupy
  • Brush the syrup over the warm buns to make them glossy

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So what will you make?

Tea Loaf
or Sweet Buns?

Don't forget to check out the rules & grab the badge code here.


Monday, 23 September 2013

Procook Baking & Kitchenware {review}

It pleases me immensely when I get asked if I want to review a kitchen gadget or piece of kitchenware / bakeware, and it pleases me even more when I can choose items that I would like from a whole host of amazing items on a website.

This particular time it was for a company called Procook who have a large selection of cooking implements and assorted kitchenware, including stainless steel saucepans, knife sets, baking trays and fine china.

I was in need of some new baking trays so I selected a 3 piece non stick set, along with a gorgeous cake/cheese dome because was pretty.

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Over the last few weeks I've been using both of these items during the Great Bloggers Bake Off challenges. I have been really impressed with the baking trays which have definitely lived up to their 'ultimate quality non stick coating' label, and even my home made stuffing slid off the tray with ease...

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small tray
The medium and large trays have been great, and the largest one is a good size to contain my loose bottomed tart tin.

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The other item that I was sent has been perfect for displaying cakes and tarts and keeping them away from filthy flies & wasps buzzing around. 

The large dome is suitable for cakes up to 25cm in diameter with a solid beech base and hand blown glass bell dome. It's also a gorgeous piece of kitchenware on it's own...

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I was sent these items for the purpose of this review

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Great Bloggers Bake Off - Week 5 Round Up

Week 5 of the Great Bloggers Bake Off has now come to a close and we have some fabulous entries linked up again. Tray Bakes seem to be a very popular choice this week and a lot more popular than tuiles and biscuit towers, can't think why that would be!

Here are all the amazing entries :


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2.Apple & Berry Crumble Slices - Mummy Mishaps
3.Cinnamon & Raisin Shortbread - Hodge Podge Days
4.Millionaire's Shortbread - Jennifers Little World
5.Carrot, Parsnip & Coconut Flapjacks - Veggie Desserts
6.Oreo Brownies - Inside the Wendy House

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8.Double Chocolate Malteser Tray Bake - Jo's Kitchen
9.My Darlings & Me - Banana Chocolate brownies
10.Ellies Pink Cakes - Spiced Plum Traybake
11.Cafe bebe - Brownies
12.Keynko - Savoury Golden slice

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13.Bluebirdsunshine - anzac caramel slice
14.Being Mrs C - rocky road
15.Stressy Mummy - Toffee Apple Tray Bake
16.Sarah's Wacky World - Flapjacks
17.Crumbs & Corkscrews - Raspberry & Blueberry Blondies
18.Wallflower girl - Pumpkin & Ginger Tray bake

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20.Snaffles Mummy - Raspberry Bakewell Slice
21.Hijacked by Twins -Millionaire's Nutty Shortbread
22.The Crazy Kitchen - Chocolate Peanut Magic Cookie Bars
23.MissyB & Family - Chocolate Orange Brownies
24.Vanilla Stitches - Nanaimo bars

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26.Munchies & Munchkins - Brownies
27.All You Need Is Love & Cake - Rockie Road Brownie Tray bake
28.Ramblings of a Crafty Mum - Rocky Road Traybake
29.Casa Costello - Caramel Apple Tray bake


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2.The Goodlife Mum - coloured Tuiles
3.Tales of Pigling Bland - easy Tuiles
4.Multilayer Mummy - tuiles
5.Cakes Photos Life - Gruyere Tuiles

Biscuits & Biscuit Towers 

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2.Foodie Laura - gingerbread tree
3.MissyB & Family - Jam Filled Butter Biscuits
4.Carole Finds Her Wings - Summer Biscuit Tower
5.Cupcake Mumma - Gluten & Dairy Free Chocolate Crisp Cookies
6.Sew Love Craft - Biscuit tower

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8.Here Come the Girls - Pumpkin Cookie Stack

I expect you are now wondering who myself and Jenny chose as our Star Baker for this week.....

well, after much of the usual deliberation, we have decided to go with..........


Yes you heard that right...we've decided to be très controversée and pick a Star Baker for each category (because once again we have been struggling to decide and after almost 2 hours still couldn't whittle it down to just one).....soooooo the star bakers for week 5 are.......

drum roll........

  • Aimee for her very Autumnal sounding pumpkin & ginger traybake, which looks and sounds delicous, as well as some very good photo styling.
  • Helen for her amazing coloured and shaped tuiles, she must have fingers of steel to handle those hot out of the oven tuiles and make them into such creative shapes
  • Last but not least, Rebecca for another very seasonal bake with her Pumpkin cookie stacks, we both loved these & thought they were really creative.

Well done everyone that joined in, there were some truly amazing sounding bakes this week and once again we have been overwhelmed by all the entries.
Star Bakers please contact Jenny for your badges....

Don't forget to tune in on BBC2 at 8pm on Tuesday for next weeks show, which we are led to believe is all about Sweet Dough.


Chocolate Peanut Magic Cookie Bars

I couldn't let the tray bake week on Great Bloggers Bake Off pass without making the easiest and most delicious tray bake ever - Magic Cookie Bars. Discovered whilst I was living in the US over 10 years ago now, probably in one of the Sunday supplements in an ad for condensed milk. The recipe was called '7 layer magic cookie bars', given the name because of the seven layers (unsurprisingly) and the magic that is condensed milk that turns them into cookies without any creaming, mixing, rolling or beating, and holds them all together - truly magical!

The original recipe calls for butterscotch chips and milk chocolate chips but I decided to go with chopped milk, white & plain chocolate as it's much cheaper than the chips. I also went with salted peanuts but any kind of nuts can be used and I imagine dried fruits too - cherries and chocolate could be good, as could apple and pecan...the possibilities are endless! I blogged a variation of the recipe 2 years ago here.

Once problem with these is that they are very very sticky and the condensed milk sticks like concrete to any surface that it touches. I've made them in a glass baking dish and also in a non stick pan lined with greaseproof paper and the glass dish came off best. I think the best solution would be to use a silicon pan.

Anyway, without further ado, here is my recipe :

Chocolate Peanut Magic Cookie Bars

Chocolate Peanut Magic Cookie Bars (8 layer)

100g Butter
200g Bourbon biscuits, crushed
397g can of Condensed milk
125g salted peanuts
50g dark chocolate, chopped
50g milk chocolate, chopped
50g white chocolate, chopped
50g desiccated coconut

  • Place the butter into a 13x9 baking dish (or tin) 
  • Place the dish in a preheated 170 C oven for approx 5 minutes, until melted
  • Remove the dish from the oven & scatter over the crushed biscuits, covering the butter evenly
  • Pour over the condensed milk
  • Scatter the remaining layers over the condensed milk
  • Bake in the oven for approx 25 minutes, until bubbling & golden
  • Cool completely and then place in the fridge until very cold before attempting to slice them into squares

Warning : These are very moreish!
  Chocolate Peanut Magic Cookie Bars

   Chocolate Peanut Magic Cookie Bars

Even more delicious served with Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream - with real peanut butter cups buried in peanut butter ice cream.
   Chocolate Peanut Magic Cookie Bars


I was sent vouchers for the Ben & Jerry's ice cream

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Matalan Halloween Tips Twitter Party

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If you're already thinking about Halloween (or even if you're not) then Matalan have a Twitter Party just for you. On Wednesday 25th September between 1pm & 2pm myself and four other bloggers will be co-hosting a Twitter chat with @matalan to discuss all things Halloween, including the best tips and tricks for having fun, even if you're on a budget.

If you have any tips or questions make sure you tune in and follow @matalan and the #HalloweenTips hashtag to be in with a chance of winning one of 10 £20 gift vouchers.

The following subject areas will be covered both during the twitter party and follow up posts on the Matalan blog by myself and the others :

  • Decorating & Decorations
  • Food & Drink
  • Costumes
  • Games, Activities & Crafts

I've already been getting in the spirit (no pun intended) of Halloween with my finger lickin' spooky Halloween dip.....
 Spooky Fingers Pumpkin Bowl Dip

Please come and join myself, Becky, Carolin, Marianne & Cat for a fun filled chat on Wednesday.

Me (Helen) @jessies_kitchen
Becky - Family Budgeting @familybudgeting
Carolin - Mummy Alarm @caro_mad
Marianne - Mari's World @maris_world
Cat - Yellow Days @CatParrot

You can also follow one of our Halloween Pinterest Boards here :

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Roasted Yellow Courgette Soup

The weather has turned and it feels almost wintery out there so we have turned to soups to warm us up and fill our bellies ready for the onset of the colder weather. Last week I was given more giant yellow courgettes from one of my allotment friends. I've already made lemon & courgette cake and orange & cinnamon courgette cake and after Hanna's birthday we are feeling a little caked out so I decided on a healthier option to use up some more of the yellow beasts.

I had a perfect taste tester for the soup as Hanna was off school ill with headaches and sore throat so after she woke from a morning nap I asked her if she would like to try some. When she asked what flavour I hesitantly told her it was courgette as I know she's not keen on them. After her requesting tomato soup and me breaking the news that we hadn't any she agreed to try some....and finished off the bowl!

Roasted Yellow Courgette Soup

2 very big yellow courgettes, enormous in fact..think marrow!
2 onions
1 bulb of garlic
fresh or dried herbs
salt & pepper
Olive oil
1 pint of vegetable stock

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  • Chop the courgettes & onions into large pieces
  • Slice the garlic bulb in half
  • Place the courgettes, onion & garlic in a large roasting tin & add a big glug of olive oil, herbs & salt & pepper
  • Roast in a 180C oven for around 1 hour until softened
  • Squeeze the garlic from the skin & discard the skin
  • Tip everything including the juices into a large saucepan & blend with a stick blender
  • Add the stock & season as required
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