The Crazy Kitchen: February 2015

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Lemon Pepper Chicken (in the Actifry)

There are not many kitchen gadgets or small appliances that I can say have been worth their weight in gold, but I can honestly say that the Tefal Actifry has earned it's place on my kitchen shelf, and not been pushed to the back of the cupboard.

We mostly use it for healthy chips, wedges or roast potatoes, and it's so simple that even the husband can use it. From time to time I do the odd stir fry in it, but as it's not large enough to make stir fry for the whole family, I only really use it when I'm making lunch for myself or dinner for two.

It is, however, large enough to cook enough chicken or pork for all of us in only 10 minutes, which can then be added to fried rice, pasta or vegetables.

Lemon pepper chicken is a dish I like to make myself for lunch as it's really quick and takes little effort, as well as being really tasty, with enough pepper in it to give it a nice kick.

Lemon Pepper Chicken (in the Actifry)

Lemon Pepper Chicken - serves 1

1 chicken breast
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground black pepper (more or less depending on your taste)
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp olive oil
  • Cut the chicken into thin strips & place in a bowl
  • Add the lemon juice, black pepper, soy sauce & olive oil and mix to combine
  • Add to the Actifry and spread around to avoid it sticking together
  • Cook for 10 minutes (this may vary slightly depending on the thickness of your chicken. ensure it's fully cooked before serving)

I served with fried brown basmati rice and vegetables

Lemon Pepper Chicken (in the Actifry) Lemon Pepper Chicken (in the Actifry) Lemon Pepper Chicken (in the Actifry)

Weight Watchers Filling & Healthy : This is suitable for Weight Watchers filling & healthy and is completely free if you use the olive oil from your healthy oil allowance.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Finding my Better Place - Syndol #BetterPlaces

Last week was half term here, and whilst I love having the kids at home and not having to do the school run each morning and afternoon, I felt as though my head was going to explode at times. Having three children of different ages, sexes (well not all 3 are different, but you get the idea) and with different interests, can cause problems at times. Whilst one wants to go swimming or play football with friends, another wants to go shopping in town and the third wants to do whatever Mummy is doing. Thankfully the husband was off work last week too, and he took on the role of 'Dad's Taxi' whilst I got on with work and entertaining a five year old.

By the end of the week I felt as though I had been running a café/hotel/laundrette and my head was pounding. Luckily we were heading off to London for a couple of days break from the norm, which was very much needed, but usually when I feel like I'm going to explode I like to pull my running shoes on and head out into the countryside close to where I live.

Finding my Better Place - Syndol #BetterPlaces

We may not have beaches or mountains, but here in the heart of Staffordshire we have country lanes, and lots of them. I have a 5k loop that I like to run (and walk a bit) from time to time, which doesn't see much traffic, but if you keep your eyes peeled you may just see cows, sheep, horses, rainbows, spring flowers, sunrises and sunsets.

 photo runningloop_zpsc6bb01f9.jpg

I usually take my phone with me to record my distance and time, and take the odd photos, but one day I took my Nikon with me to grab a few clearer images of my #BetterPlaces for the Syndol Headache Relief 'Find Your Better Place' campaign.

 photo DSC_0811_zps8fc5641e.jpg  photo DSC_0819_zps9697167f.jpg  photo DSC_0814_zpsbd086054.jpg  photo DSC_0828_zpsda0440b2.jpg  photo DSC_0837_zps05fdd8b1.jpg  photo DSC_0841_zps2c000703.jpg  photo DSC_0842_zpsdb457e3e.jpg


Where do you go to clear your head? Do you have a Better Place?


“This #BetterPlaces post is in support of the Syndol Headache relief 'Find Your Better Place' campaign with BritMums. Syndol Headache Relief is now formulated for headaches. Visit www.syndol.co.uk for online resources with information about headaches and how to restore calm in your life.” and linking to www.syndol.co.uk 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Quick and Tasty All-in-One Cinnamon Apple Cake

It's not often that I buy sweets, cakes or junk food so it's rare that there's something 'naughty' in the house, unless it's been a birthday, Christmas, Easter or I've gone shopping whilst hungry and been led astray by special offers, or of course when I've been baking. So when the kids ask for pudding, and the cake tin is empty, this is my go to quick recipe for a delicious dessert that can be eaten straight from the oven, drowning in custard.

It takes a matter of minutes to prepare in the food processor attachment on my Kenwood Chef Sense, and 20-25 minutes to bake. You don't even need to have your ingredients at room temperature, and they can all be weighed straight into the bowl together, to save on washing up. I also use cake tin liners, which is another great time saver.

Quick and Tasty All-in-One Cinnamon Apple Cake

Quick and Tasty All-in-One Cinnamon Apple Cake - makes 1 x 8" cake

2 medium free range eggs (weighed in their shells)
equivalent weight (approx 115g) of :
self raising flour
butter
caster sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp natural yogurt or coconut cream
1 eating apple, cored & sliced
1 tbsp demerara sugar
  • Add the eggs, flour, butter, caster sugar, cinnamon and yogurt to the bowl of the food processor
  • Pulse until fully combined, scraping down the bowl once or twice
  • Add the apple and pulse a few more times
  • Pour the batter into a greased and lined 8" sandwich tin
  • Scatter the demerara sugar evenly over the batter
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown & springy to the touch
  • Eat warm or cold
Quick and Tasty All-in-One Cinnamon Apple Cake Quick and Tasty All-in-One Cinnamon Apple Cake Quick and Tasty All-in-One Cinnamon Apple Cake Quick and Tasty All-in-One Cinnamon Apple Cake

Crispy on the top, and moist and fruity in the centre.

Quick and Tasty All-in-One Cinnamon Apple Cake


If you want to see more recipes that can be made in a Kenwood Chef Sense then check out these videos, where you might just spot little old me! *runs and hides*.





More videos like these can be found on the Kenwood You Tube Channel and Kenwood website.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Middle Eastern Spiced Meatloaf

I got up this morning with a spring in my step. Two out of three children were still sleeping so after my shower I went to wake them, and there was a hint of daylight peeking through the blinds. It was great to feel that spring was on it's way. The sun was shining and I decided to go without socks, and very nearly went without my coat on the school run. 

I'm so glad that I came to my senses before I stepped outside the door as it was freezing! I was completely fooled by that sun for a moment, and I'm certain that I'll be keeping the winter coat out for a few more weeks at least.

Once the shopping was delivered I decided to make a meatloaf, which would be a perfect hearty meal for the kids after their first day back at school. I spiced it up with some Baharat spice, which is a blend of spices used in Middle Eastern cooking, that contains paprika, coriander, black pepper, cayenne, cumin, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg. It's not too spicy but adds a delicious flavour, and the vegetables keep the meatloaf moist. You could just grate the vegetables, which will give it more texture, but processing them hides them from the pickiest of eaters. I topped with a mildly spiced tomato sauce, which can be blended to make a smooth sauce if preferred.

Middle Eastern Spiced Meatloaf

Middle Eastern Spiced Meatloaf

2 small red onions
1 small carrot, peeled
1 small courgette
750g lean beef mince
3 tbsp ground oats (I grind a large batch of oats at a time in the food processor & store in a jar)
1 egg
3 tsp Baharat spice
1 tsp olive oil

sauce
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp Baharat spice

  • Add the onions, carrot and courgette to a food processor and blitz until finely chopped
  • In a large bowl mix together the blitzed vegetables, mince, oats, egg and spices until well combined
  • Brush a loaf tin with the olive oil and line with baking paper
  • Add the mixture to the tin, cover with foil, and bake in a preheated 180C oven for 45-60 minutes, until cooked all the way through, removing the foil for the last 23 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes and spice to a saucepan and bring to the boil and simmer until thickened
  • Allow to rest for 10 minutes, drain any excess juices before slicing and serving with the tomato sauce


Middle Eastern Spiced Meatloaf Middle Eastern Spiced Meatloaf Middle Eastern Spiced Meatloaf

Weight Watchers Filling & Healthy : This is suitable for Weight Watchers filling & healthy and is completely point free (if using the olive oil from your daily healthy oil allowance)

Friday, 20 February 2015

Better with BRITA - Hot Mocktail Recipe

I've teamed up once again with BRITA on their 'Better with BRITA' campaign, to help inspire my readers to incorporate filtered water into their everyday lives, as part of a healthy lifestyle.

We drink a lot of water in our house, and the fridge is always full of refilled bottles, which does get a bit much when I can no longer fit the weekly shop in as the boys keep loading it up with bottles filled from our BRITA water tap. I could do with drinking a bit more myself, but I'll come to that in a future post when I take on a hydration challenge.

I do manage to keep myself hydrated throughout the day mostly through hot drinks such as coffee and tea (both regular and herbal). I also love a cocktail from time to time so I've combined the two in a hot mocktail, which will warm you from the inside in this cold weather, as well as keeping you hydrated.

Winter Spiced Hot Mocktail

Winter Spiced Hot Mocktail - serves 2

2 ginger teabags
400ml BRITA filtered water*
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp pure Canadian Maple syrup
half an unwaxed lemon

  • Add the teabags, water, cinnamon sticks & syrup to a pan
  • Cut a slice of lemon, cut in half & set aside
  • Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon into the pan along with the skin
  • Bring everything to the boil and simmer gently for 2 minutes
  • Pour into glasses and top each with half a lemon slice and a cinnamon stick
  • Drink whilst hot



Winter Spiced Hot Mocktail Winter Spiced Hot Mocktail Winter Spiced Hot Mocktail

* use BRITA filtered water to ensure that you receive the full flavour from your ingredients, and it's not tainted with limescale and impurities


I am being compensated to work with BRITA on their Better with BRITA campaign

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Meatball Subs (and adaptation for Weight Watchers Filling & Healthy)

I've recently started following Weight Watchers filling & healthy plan. So far it's going well and I'm enjoying the freedom of not counting points. When I've counted points in the past I became obsessed with the next meal and saving points for later in the evening 'just in case'. I don't seem to be doing this at all now, and because nothing is out of bounds I find that I don't even want that evening 'treat' that I might have previously saved the points for. I try and make meals that we can all eat together, with slight adaptions in mine - for example, last week I made lasagne and used wholewheat lasagne sheets for all of us but made mine up in a separate dish and topped with natural yogurt and egg beaten together instead of white sauce and cheese.

Meatball Subs

Meatballs are a dish that we all enjoy, and I usually serve them with a tomato sauce and pasta, or with a creamy Ikea type gravy. This time I decided to serve them a little differently, in some part baked baguettes that I always have a good supply of, with grated Monterey Jack cheese melted on top (Weight Watchers petit pain & cheese for me), and salad.

Meatball Subs - serves 4-5

meatballs
750g Lean pork mince
1 egg
1 tbsp dried thyme
salt & black pepper

sauce
drizzle of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
400g can of chopped tomatoes
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
tbsp tomato puree

for serving
baguettes
grated Monterey Jack cheese
fresh parsley, chopped 
  • Mix the meatball ingredients together in a bowl until fully combined
  • Form small balls from approx teaspoon of mince
  • Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 180C oven for approx 15 minutes & set aside
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan
  • Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for 2-3 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes and any meatball juices and simmer for approx 20 minutes until onions have softened, adding a splash of water if it becomes too dry
  • Stir in the tomato puree and parsley and add the meatballs to heat through
  • To serve, place some meatballs and sauce into each baguette and sprinkle with some grated cheese and fresh parsley
Meatball Subs Meatball Subs Meatball Subs


Weight Watchers Filling & Healthy : This is suitable for Weight Watchers filling & healthy by using a Weight Watchers petit pain. Add 20g Weight Watchers grated mature cheddar for 1 ProPoint

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Cheese & Roasted Chilli No Knead Bread

The weather at the moment is so cold and our summer holiday seems so far away, so I can only dream of the two weeks we'll spend soaking up the Spanish sunshine and Mediterranean diet in August.

Olive Oils from Spain are so passionate about this Spanish lifestyle that they've taken 'The Good Life Embassy' on a world tour to share their 'Taste Our Lifestyle' campaign with countries across the globe, including USA, Mexico, Brazil & Australia.

We're not letting the cold and snow stop us from enjoying the delights of the Mediterranean though, and so I've made a no knead loaf enriched with Olive Oils from Spain to dunk in our winter soup.

This is a simple, no knead recipe that barely takes any effort to make, although the lengthy proving time means that you will have to leave it overnight, so remember to start it the day before you want to eat it. As there's no kneading involved it results in the cheese and chilli laying just under the crust, so if you want a more even distribution you will just have to knead these ingredients in after the first prove.

Cheese & Roasted Chilli No Knead Bread

Cheese & Roasted Chilli No Knead Bread

500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp salt
280ml room temperature water
100ml olive oil + additional for roasting chillies
4 chillies
100g cheddar cheese, grated
  • Stir together the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl
  • Add the water and 100ml of olive oil and mix well until everything is well combined
  • Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave at room temperature for around 12-18 hours
  • In the meantime place the chillies in an ovenproof dish (I used a garlic roaster) and drizzle with a little olive oil
  • Cover and roast in a preheated 200C oven for 30 minutes
  • Leave chillies to cool and then slit them down the middle with a knife and scrape the seeds and stalk out
  • Once proved, tip the dough out onto a floured surface and flatten down
  • Chop the chillies and scatter them over the dough, and top with half the cheese
  • Fold the outsides of the dough in and squeeze together in the centre
  • Form into a ball and cover with flour
  • Turn over and place into a cast iron pot and scatter with a little more flour
  • Place the lid on and leave to prove for around 3 hours
  • Bake in a preheated 200C oven for 1 hour, removing the lid & scattering with the remaining cheese for the final 20 minutes
  • Once baked, turn out onto a wire rack to cool

Cheese & Roasted Chilli No Knead Bread Cheese & Roasted Chilli No Knead Bread Cheese & Roasted Chilli No Knead Bread Cheese & Roasted Chilli No Knead Bread Cheese & Roasted Chilli No Knead Bread Cheese & Roasted Chilli No Knead Bread

If you're in search of a little taste of the Mediterranean this winter then head over the Taste Our Lifestyle blogFacebookTwitter and Pinterest for recipes, chat and inspiration.

This recipe has been commissioned by Olive Oils from Spain

Monday, 16 February 2015

Recipe for Pancake Day : Creamy Crepe Cake

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

With pancake day upon us this week, it's time to stock up on eggs and flour and get cracking on with making some pancakes. I make pancakes quite often and they're definitely not confined to just one day a year. I usually make American style pancakes, using my standard pancake recipe here,as they're a lot quicker than crepes because I can fit three in a pan at a time, rather than just one crepe.

On pancake day when I was growing up my Mum would always make crepes, and myself and my brother would always argue over who was going to get the first one. My poor Mum was stood at that cooker for ages trying to keep up with the demand; which of course, she never could.



Creamy Crepe Cake for Pancake Day

I've recently made a pancake cake, sandwiched with chocolate, but this time, I've gone for a more delicate looking Crepe Cake, sandwiched with a light mousse-like filling of lemon yogurt, whipped egg whites and cream. You could go with whatever flavour yogurt you prefer, but I chose a tub of Yeo Valley organic lemon curd yogurt, found in the kids yogurts aisle in my local Tesco store.



 photo tesco2_zps2bc406cd.jpg  photo tesco1_zps92920300.jpg

There's no denying that this does a while to make. Each crepe takes around 2-3 minutes to cook and the quantities here makes around 20 crepes - you do the maths! Once they're made it doesn't take long to put together though. It's best to make it in advance and let it firm up for around an hour in the fridge before serving, to make sure you get nice slices. It will definitely be a dessert to wow your guests, and a great excuse to eat pancakes all year around, and not just on pancake day.

Creamy Crepe Cake for Pancake Day

Creamy Crepe Cake 

for the crepes
250g plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
4 eggs
600ml semi skimmed milk
butter/oil or cooking spray for frying (I use butter flavoured cooking spray)

for the filling
2 egg whites
400ml double cream
450g lemon curd yogurt
icing sugar for decorating
  • Add the flour and sugar to a large bowl
  • Whisk in the eggs and one third of the milk, until the mixture is smooth
  • Whisk in the remaining milk a little at a time, until it's all incorporated and smooth
  • Heat a little oil/butter/cooking spray in a non stick frying pan & wipe any excess off with kitchen paper
  • Using a small ladle, spoon some batter into the pan and swill around until it coats the bottom of the pan (the first pancake does not always turn out great so use this one to judge how much batter you'll need for each pancake) - it should be quite a thin layer of batter
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes before flipping over and cooking the other side for similar time. You'll know when it's time to flip as the pancake will become drier and move around the pan when you shake it
  • Set the crepe aside and repeat until all the batter has been used up
  • Set the crepes aside to cool fully 
  • Make the filling by whisking the egg whites until they form stiff peaks
  • Fold the egg whites into the yogurt carefully, to keep as much air in as possible
  • Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks - making sure that you don't over whisk it or it will become stiff and dry
  • Fold the cream into the yogurt/egg whites, until fully combined
  • Place one crepe on a plate and spread some of the filling evenly over it
  • Repeat with the remaining pancakes and filling, until one or both have been used up
  • Finish with a sprinkle of icing sugar and some bunting made from paper straws, string and card cutouts

Creamy Crepe Cake for Pancake Day Creamy Crepe Cake for Pancake Day Creamy Crepe Cake for Pancake Day Creamy Crepe Cake for Pancake Day Creamy Crepe Cake for Pancake Day

What flavour would you make your crepe cake? I spotted a salted caramel yogurt whilst shopping so that might have to be the next flavour for us.

5 Appliances for a Streamlined Kitchen

The kitchen is often regarded as the heart of the home and can make or break the sale of a property. Similarly, it can add thousands of pounds onto the value of a home if tastefully and practically designed in the eyes of the purchaser. While most kitchen installations will structurally last 10 years or more, appliances may only last up to 5 years.

If you opt for integrated and built in appliances there's no need to change the look of your kitchen when it's time for a new appliance.

5 Appliances for a Streamlined Kitchen

Oven
Perhaps one of the most important features in a kitchen, after all, it's probably the reason that most of us have a kitchen (unless you eat take aways daily). A built in oven at eye level is perhaps the most convenient type you will find, with no bending down to check on the progress of your cake, or lifting out a weighty casserole.

Gas Hob
Once you have your built in oven you're free to position your hob wherever is most convenient for you. Many people have them fitted into a central island, which means that you can join in conversations with your guests rather than have your back to them, facing a wall, whilst cooking. Many of the gas hobs from Amica, with their angled control panels and ergonomically designed control knobs, guarantee comfort and ease of use, as well as being stylish.

Microwave
Many of us probably haven't even considered a built in microwave, but if workspace is tight then it may be worth integrating the microwave into a wall cabinet to free up valuable space.

Dishwasher
Whilst the oven is possibly one of the most important features in a kitchen, the dishwasher is possibly the most convenient. Many kitchens now have a dishwasher, if there's room, and by having an integrated machine it can blend in with the rest of the kitchen and not be blatantly obvious that you're too lazy to do the dishes!

Fridge
Avoid having a big white box in the middle of your kitchen by hiding one of the largest of kitchen appliances behind matching cabinet doors. Built in fridges come in all sizes and aren't usually as deep as freestanding, meaning that they won't protrude from under your worktop, and as a result your kitchen is more streamlined.







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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Chocolate Pancake Cake

Today I'm over on the Wayfair website, sharing my recipe for a Chocolate Pancake Cake, just in time for pancake day.

Chocolate Pancake Cake

Why don't you pop over for the full recipe, and whilst you're there make sure you have a browse of their fab online store with gorgeous products for every room of the house, including this large pink Mason Cash mixing bowl, which I absolutely love, and silicone & wood spatula.

mason cash mixing bowl


Chocolate Pancake Cake

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