The Crazy Kitchen: January 2017

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Friday, 27 January 2017

3 Ingredient Cheesy Pesto Twists

My kids at the moment are constantly after food. The minute they walk through the door after school they're foraging in the fridge looking for something that takes their fancy, but strangely enough that something never seems to be fruit. Not unless I've peeled and chopped it and put it in a bowl for them.  If there's not a freshly baked offering on the side they then turn to the biscuit tin, which is usually empty.

Earlier in the week I remembered I had some pesto in the fridge, leftover from a pasta dish one night, and not being one that likes throwing food away I decided to put it to good use. I usually keep a roll or two of puff pastry in the fridge or freezer ready to make into something tasty, so thought I would combine the two and make a snack ready for when the kids came in from school.

3 Ingredient Cheesy Pesto Twists

This simple recipe requires only 3 ingredients, and makes use of that half a jar of pesto, along with hard cheese and a sheet of puff pastry - I go for the ready rolled as it makes life so much simpler!

3 Ingredient Cheesy Pesto Twists

3 Ingredient Cheesy Pesto Twists 3 Ingredient Cheesy Pesto Twists

These twists are a great accompaniment to a pasta dish, for the kids to snack on after school, or to enjoy with a glass of wine at the weekend.

3 Ingredient Cheesy Pesto Twists 3 Ingredient Cheesy Pesto Twists

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Make Money with Swagbucks from the Comfort of Your Sofa

January can be a bit of a depressing month for one reason or another, but I always try and look on the bright side. The weather may not be great but there are signs that spring is just around the corner. The Christmas credit card bill is in, but instead of crying over it I'm looking for ways to help us get through next Christmas without a crippling bill at the end of it.

My tool for doing this is Swagbucks, a site where you complete surveys, watch videos and get cashback on your online shopping, in the form of points called SB. You can then redeem your SB for giftcards to spend at your favourite stores, such as Amazon, Argos, M&S & Debenhams.

Since the beginning of January I've redeemed enough SB for £80 of Mastercard vouchers, which I'm using to buy supermarket vouchers from Park, to cover the the cost of food, drink and gifts next Christmas. It may seem like a long way off, but I'm sure it will be here before we know it.

All this I've done by watching videos and completing surveys online from the comfort of my sofa in the evenings, sitting at my desk working, or in the kitchen cooking dinner.

If you want to find out what it's all about, and help cover the cost of your Christmas in 2017, or treat yourself to a new outfit from TK Maxx, a meal at ASK Italian or something for the home from Amazon or John Lewis then sign up here. If you then go on to earn 300 SB before 1st February you'll get an additional 300 SB as a bonus. You also earn SB via referrals, so each referral you get you earn 10% of their SB too.*

**** UPDATE ****
If you join in February & earn 300SB before the end of the month you will receive a 300SB bonus. If you refer others that do the same you will both earn additional 300SB bonuses - the potential bonuses are unlimited! To make it even easier to reach your bonus join Swagbucks Swago & earn 200SB for completing the board (takes just a few minutes).

You Can Get Free Gift Cards For Shopping, Searching and Discovering What's Online at

* certain restrictions apply. See the Swagbucks site for full details.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Raspberry Jammie Dodger Cupcakes

I'm a woman of my word, so as promised here is another sweet treat recipe for those that came here looking for something other than healthy January food. These cupcakes are a basic cake recipe that you can add your own flavours to. I chose to add a touch of vanilla extract this time, but grated lemon zest works really well too, especially with the raspberry topping.

Raspberry Jammie Dodger Cupcakes

Some people can find buttercream a little too sweet, but this simple topping is creamy and fruity, with just the right amount of sweetness. It's also a lot less hassle to make than buttercream as it doesn't leave your kitchen with a layer of icing sugar dust over it!

Raspberry Jammie Dodger Cupcakes

Perfect for your Valentine.(Nobody can see that the cases have a reindeer on the bottom!)

Raspberry Jammie Dodger Cupcakes Raspberry Jammie Dodger Cupcakes
Raspberry Jammie Dodger Cupcakes

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Syn Free Red Pepper Quiche (Slimming World Friendly Recipe)

I mentioned last week how I've jumped aboard the Slimming World bandwagon, and so far it's going well. To avoid boredom and running the risk of falling off the wagon I'm trying to make sure my meals are as tasty and varied as possible, so now that I've got my head around syns and healthy extras I'm going to start sharing some of my recipes on here. 

For those readers that came here looking for sweet treats then fear not as I will still be sharing some naughtier recipes too - like the Freakshake I shared last week. 

For today though, it's all about the syn free quiche, which is perfect for lunch whether you're at home or on the go as it tastes just as delicious cold as it does warm. You can add whatever you like, and add as much or as little cheese as you allow yourself (it also works well with a thinly sliced Babybel on top).

Syn Free Red Pepper Quiche (Slimming World Friendly Recipe)

Along with making and photographing the recipes, I've also been trying my hand at making short videos to share on Facebook to show followers how easy it is to make many of my recipes (I don't like making dishes that take a lot of effort and time!). The videos (and my editing skills) are a bit rough around the edges but I'm hoping my skills will improve over time, so bear with me.

Here is the video for this recipe, and you can find a video for a delicious Roasted Brussels Sprout & Butternut Squash Salad here.

Syn Free Red Pepper Quiche (Slimming World Friendly Recipe)

Syn Free Red Pepper Quiche (Slimming World Friendly Recipe) Syn Free Red Pepper Quiche (Slimming World Friendly Recipe)

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Dairy Free Chocolate Freakshake {using Rice Dream}

New year, new me. Blah Blah Blah. 
We all do it, but this year I mean it. I haven't actually said it out loud because I hate the term, but there is nothing like a new year to start a new diet. Or a Monday, or indeed a Tuesday, like today, on which I have jumped aboard the Slimming World bandwagon. Dieting is not easy when your work revolves around delicious food, but I will be zipping my mouth firmly shut and handing over full taste testing responsibility to my 3 stooges. 

Dairy Free Chocolate Freakshake

First test on the agenda has been for DREAM, who specialise in Diary free alternatives to milk and ice cream. I received some of their Rice Dream drink to test their claim that it offers tea lovers a dairy free solution to the perfect cup of tea. I admit that I am a little fussy when it comes to tea, and can only drink it with skimmed milk in. For coffee I'm a little more flexible, but if there's tea on offer then it has to be skimmed milk, or I drink it black. 

Rice Dream Dairy Free - Perfect cup of Tea

I was a little skeptical at this claim but was pleasantly surprised that my tea tasted no different to usual, despite being a little darker in colour due to the consistency of the milk.

None of the kids are tea drinkers so they weren't in the slightest bit interested in these claims, but they were more than happy to put Rice Dream through their own taste test in a Freakshake.

Dairy Free Chocolate Freakshake

Freakshakes are a huge trend sweeping the country. Bars and caf├ęs are adding them to their menus, and Facebook is often awash with photos of huge shakes that have enough calories in to see a grown man through a few days! What to do if you're following a dairy free diet though? How about this dairy free freakshake, which is still loaded with all the yumminess and calories, but without the dairy. Most supermarkets stock dairy free products that can be used in this, and although I used a dairy free chocolate ice cream that I found in my local supermarket, DREAM make a salted caramel and a mint chocolate version which is available in Waitrose, and would be a delicious alternative.

Dairy Free Chocolate Freakshake - makes 1

tbsp smooth peanut butter
25g dairy free chocolate
250ml Rice DREAM
1 tbsp cocoa powder
4 scoops dairy free ice cream
2 large cookies (there's a great recipe here for cookies using coconut oil)
handful of sweet & salty popcorn
coconut cream
dairy free brownies (this recipe can be adapted with dairy free spread and chocolate)

  • Place the peanut butter in a small bowl and heat for 10-20 seconds in the microwave until runny
  • Dip the rim of your glass into the peanut butter to coat the rim approx 1-2cm deep before dipping in sprinkles
  • Place in the fridge to firm up whilst making the shake
  • Make a chocolate sauce by heating together a tsp of rice Dream with the dairy free chocolate, until melted and smooth
  • Use some of the chocolate sauce to drizzle inside the glass
  • Add the remaining rice Dream to a blender, along with the cocoa powder and 2 scoops of ice cream - whizz together until smooth
  • Pour the shake into the glass and top with another scoop of ice cream
  • Make an ice cream sandwich out of the 2 cookies and one scoop of ice cream - making a hole in the centre for the straws
  • Top with coconut cream and stick popcorn and brownie pieces around the cream and ice cream
  • Drizzle with the remaining chocolate sauce before serving
Dairy Free Chocolate Freakshake Dairy Free Chocolate Freakshake

Rice DREAM certainly passed the taste test in these shakes, and the glasses were soon empty!

If you fancy trying Rice DREAM for yourself then it's available in Ocado, Tesco & Waitrose (rrp £1.49). There is currently a 'try me for free' promotion on certain packs, inviting shoppers to discover the great taste for themselves, or receive their money back if they don't enjoy it. What have you got to lose!

Rice Dream Dairy Free - Perfect cup of Tea

post commissioned for DREAM

Join Swagbucks!

Monday, 9 January 2017

BBQ Mackerel Macaroni Cheese

Well that's it, Christmas is over and done for another year. It sprung itself upon us quickly, and then in the blink of an eye it was gone again, leaving behind it lots and lots of indulgent food, and some bulging waistlines. I can't wait to get back into a healthy eating regime, and was craving a nice big salad all over the festive period. I'm committed to the cause though, and  will be ploughing through the mountain of cheese until the end. If you've got excess cheese in the fridge then a great way to use some of it up is in a macaroni cheese. This isn't something that I make often as not all of the family like it, but when I do I usually use mature cheddar, but most cheeses are suitable, including smoked, spicy or blue. If you want to cut the calories a little then the quantity of cheese can be reduced and replaced with a lower fat version.

BBQ Mackerel Macaroni Cheese

In this version I've added some Princes Mackerel fillets in Texas BBQ style sauce, which are a great source of Omega 3 and protein, as well as being a handy product to keep in the pantry to make a quick and easy meal. If you don't fancy making the macaroni cheese from scratch there are some good ready made products out there which can be given extra flavour by adding a can of mackerel fillets in sauce. The fillets are available in a variety of sauces, including Mexican, Hot & Sour, Piri Piri & Brazilian if you fancy spicing your Mac & Cheese up a little!

This recipe would serve 4 people if you're serving it alongside some bread and salad, or 2 people wanting hefty portions. The tortilla chips give it a crunchy topping, but this can be left out or replaced with breadcrumbs (and extra cheese if you're so inclined!)

BBQ Mackerel Macaroni Cheese

BBQ Mackerel Macaroni Cheese - serves 4

250g dried or fresh macaroni
50g butter
50g plain flour
600ml milk
150g mature cheddar cheese 
2 x 125g cans of Princes Mackerel fillets in Texas BBQ sauce
handful of cheesy tortilla chips, crushed
  • Boil the Macaroni as per directions on the pack
  • Add the butter to a pan and stir until melted
  • Stir in the flour over a low heat for 2 minutes
  • Gradually add the milk, whilst whisking continuously, a little at a time to avoid getting lumps until all the milk has been added
  • Bring to the boil and remove from the heat
  • Stir in the cooked pasta and the cheese and mix well
  • Layer the macaroni and mackerel fillets into a baking dish (or individual dishes)
  • Top with the crushed tortilla chips before baking in a preheated 200℃ oven for approx 20 minutes
Serve with a large helping of home made coleslaw

BBQ Mackerel Macaroni Cheese

The Princes Mackerel range has a wide selection of flavours inspired by cuisines from all over the world – visit to find out more.

recipe commissioned for Princes

Monday, 2 January 2017

From kitchen to bathroom: 3 DIY recipes for your face, body and hair

When it’s pamper time in the bathroom, where do you go for indulgent and replenishing skin and hair products to make ‘me time’ extra special? No need to spend big on premium beauty brands – your kitchen pantry is all you need. Not only will you be able to whip up a healthy beauty product in minutes, every ingredient is natural and full of goodness.
Here, foodie and blogger Mike James, who works with The Bathroom Discount Centre recommends his top three homemade recipes for bathroom indulgence. Bon apetit!

 photo honey_zps11szfqwf.jpg
1. Chocolate Banana Smoothie Face Mask
The kitchen is a rich store cupboard for natural skincare ingredients. Just take a look at these foods and their skin boosting qualities:
helps the skin retain its elasticity and moisture and is particularly beneficial for dry skin.
Greek Yoghurt
contains lactic acid to help exfoliate your skin. Use it to remove dead skin cells, clear pores, fight blemishes and smooth the skin.
Lemon Juice
contains Vitamin B and Vitamin C. The citric acid helps to exfoliate the skin, while lemon juice also works to reduce oiliness and diminish the appearance of age spots and scars. Avoid sun exposure when applying to the skin.
Rich in antioxidants including calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium, cocoa helps to rejuvenate the skin and leaves it soft and glowing                  .
contains lactic acid and is a natural probiotic. Use it to make your skin brighter, tighter, smoother and softer.

Any combination of these skin food ingredients would make a great DIY face masks. If you can’t decide what to use, just put them all in!

3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
½ banana (mashed)
1 tsp buttermilk
1 tsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cocoa powder
Place all ingredients in a blender and combine. The desired consistency should be thick enough so it doesn’t run down your face once applied. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To use: Always test the mask on a small area of your skin in case of allergic reactions. If no reaction occurs, apply a thick layer and allow it to sit for 30 minutes, then rinse with cool water and finish off with a splash of cold water to close your pores.

2. Vanilla & Coconut Body Scrub
A homemade body scrub made from natural food ingredients you find in your kitchen will do a great job to slough away dead skin and give you baby soft skin at any time of year. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about the chemicals, preservatives and artificial colours typically found in shop bought products.
In this DIY body scrub, the graininess of the sugar helps to exfoliate the skin, including the usual hard skin areas such as feet, knees and elbows. The oil nourishes and hydrates while the scent takes you straight to an exotic beach.

200g brown sugar
100ml extra virgin olive oil, almond oil or grapeseed oil
1 ½ tbsp coconut oil
10 drops vanilla essential oil

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl – that’s it. Depending on how runny you like your body scrub, you can add more or less oil to achieve the desired consistency. Scoop the mixture into a suitable container (jam jar, old beauty container or similar) and put the lid on. Keep it in the bathroom close to hand – the mixture should keep for a few weeks.

 photo avocado_zpsuaakhvyc.jpg

3. Health Food for your Hair
For a healthy deep conditioning treatment that costs a fraction of what you would pay at a hair salon, your kitchen cupboards are the answer. Here are 2 hair repair treatments that take less than 5 minutes to make but will do wonders for the condition of your hair.
Hair Dressing     
Mix together 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp olive oil and apply to unwashed hair. Comb through and leave for 30-60 minutes, then rinse out and wash your hair as usual.
Hair Guacamole
Avocado is a highly nutritious food, including for your hair. It has some wonderfully moisturising and replenishing properties to give you smooth and sexy hair. Simply mix 1 mashed avocado with 1 tsp olive oil into a paste and apply liberally to damp hair. Cover your hair with a shower cap and wait for 20-30 minutes before rinsing and washing as usual.


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