The Crazy Kitchen: July 2012

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Monday 30 July 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash and Four Cheese Pasta Bake

Most things I make are pretty easy and this is no exception. I didn't plan my meals very well for this week when I went shopping so it was a case of looking in the fridge to see what we have and rustling something up.

I popped the butternut squash in the oven to roast whilst I dropped Hanna off at swimming and by the time I got back it was done. Timings and quantities are not great as I forgot to take note.


Butternut squash
garlic clove, crushed
olive oil
tin of chopped tomatoes
200g cream cheese
200g feta cheese, cubed
100g grated mixed cheddar cheese & mozzarella 
  • Cut the squash in half and rub olive oil, crushed garlic and herbs (I used rosemary) all over (including the skin) and place on a baking tray
  • Roast in a 200 degree (C) oven for approx 45 mins (until tender)
  • Meanwhile cook the pasta
  • Cut the squash into bitesize pieces. If the skin isn't tough then there's no need to remove it.
  • Drain the pasta and return to the saucepan, add the chopped tomatoes, more herbs (I used oregano) and cream cheese and mix well
  • Stir in the butternut squash and pour into a baking dish
  • Sprinkle over the cubed feta and grated cheeses
  • Bake in a 180 degree (C) oven until the cheese has melted and browned
and don't waste the seeds because you can roast them - just wash them off, dry them and toss them in oil (I used chilli infused extra virgin olive oil) and sprinkle with salt and herbs and spices.


Sunday 29 July 2012

Slow Cooker Summer Fruits Pudding

When I was made aware of The Boy and Me's Slow Cooker Sunday Linky, which she is hosting on behalf of Mediocre Mum, I didn't think I had the ingredients to make anything in the slow cooker this week but as I saw it as a challenge, and I'm not one to dismiss a challenge, I decided to try a pudding, something that I haven't yet tried in my slow cooker.


115g Stork Baking liquid
115g Caster sugar
2 Eggs
140g SR flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
150g Frozen summer fruits
2 tbsp Homemade gooseberry jam (or any other jam)

(basic recipe for the cake taken from the back of the Stork Baking liquid)
  • Beat the Stork, sugar and eggs together
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder and lemon zest until well combined
  • Mix the jam and the frozen fruit together in a microwaveable bowl
  • Microwave for approx 1-2 minutes until just thawed
  • Place the fruit mixture into a well buttered suitable bowl that will fit into your slow cooker
  • Top with the cake batter
  • Cover with foil and place into the pre-heated slow cooker
  • Pour boiling water around the bowl until it reaches around halfway up the bowl
  • Cook on high for 2-3 hours, until the cake is cooked

Tip: if you don't have much room around the bowl when it's in the slow cooker it's a good idea to make 'handles' to lift it out - either tie some string around it making it into handles or fold a length of foil over until it's about 2 inches wide. Place the foil into the slow cooker first and the bowl on top - you can use the excess parts of the foil to lift the bowl out.

Serve with custard, cream, ice cream ....or all three. 


Slow-Cooker Sunday

Gooseberry Jam

One of my friend's has an allotment and they had an excess of gooseberries and asked if I would like some. I had big ideas of making jams, cakes and fools but in the end only found the time to make jam. When I was younger I remember being given the tedious task of topping and tailing my Great Gran's gooseberries with a pair of nail scissors but unfortunately I had no children around to pass this onto this time so I had to endure it myself. Apart from that, the jam making process was very easy. It's just a case of weighing your gooseberries and using the same weight of granulated sugar. I had just under 1kg and this produced 3 jars of jam.

You just need to bring the gooseberries to the boil with a couple of tablespoons of water and when they've softened add the sugar and simmer until thick. At this point I thought I'd added too much water as it looked very liquid but as it bubbled away it got thicker and thicker. The best way to check to see if it's ready, if you don't have a jam thermometer, is to place a plate into the freezer for a minute or so and then spoon some of the jam onto it. It cools very quickly on the plate and you can tell if it's the right consistency, if not keep simmering.

I was quite surprised that the end result was this colour, I half expected it to be green even though I know gooseberry yoghurts aren't.


Saturday 28 July 2012

Caramel Banana Muffins

When there are a couple of manky looking bananas left in the fruit bowl they are crying out to be made into cake. As I also had a can of caramel condensed milk brought especially for Jenny's I love cake linky this month I thought I would combine the two in a muffin. I've recently been sent some lovely Great British Bakeware so it was also a good opportunity to try out the 12 cup deep muffin tray.


Caramel Banana Muffins (makes 12)

150g Caster Sugar
150ml Sunflower oil
3 Eggs
75ml Milk
2 over-ripe bananas300g SR Flour
1 tsp cinnamon 
Caramel Sauce - I used around half a can of Carnation condensed milk caramel

  • Whisk the sugar, oil, eggs and milk together
  • Lightly mash the bananas and add to the mixture, leaving a few small lumps
  • Stir in the flour and cinnamon, until just mixed
  • Line a muffin pan with cases
  • Add a spoonful of mix to each case
  • Top with a teaspoon of of caramel and then cover with more muffin batter
  • Bake in a preheated 180 degree (C) oven for 20 minutes



I was sent some Great British Bakeware for the purpose of reviewing

Sunday 22 July 2012

Roasted Homegrown Potatoes with Minted Butter

Despite the late frosts and constant rain so far this year we've still managed to get a fair crop of potatoes, even if some of them were smaller than a 1p piece.


Potatoes like this need to be given a bit of luxurious treatment so I decided to roast these in butter and top with some minted butter to serve....... 


DIY Shabby Chic Wooden Name Bunting

In the long process of decorating Hanna's bedroom (Jack fractured his leg mid-way through painting which set me back a bit) I've been trying to add some finishing touches made by my own fair hand. I have some fabric bunting and a Union Jack pinboard yet to make but today I managed to get the wooden name bunting done.

I bought unpainted plywood hearts with pre-drilled holes in and smaller plywood hearts off Ebay.


They were painted up with coloured acrylic paints and white emulsion. 
A letter was drawn on each of the smaller hearts which were then glued onto the larger ones with a small blob of PVA glue. 
Finally the letters were strung together with some jute string for hanging.


Friday 20 July 2012

Paper Doilie Cupcake Wrappers

Last week during a Twitter conversation about cakes (no surprise there) Liz pointed me in the direction of a template for paper doilie cupcake wrappers so when I was out shopping earlier in the week I called into the pound shop and bought a pack of 60 doilies, for just £1 (no surprise there either).

I was making some cupcake bouquet displays but needed to put some extra cakes on a cake stand so I thought these would make them look prettier. With them being so cheap and easy I think all of my cupcakes will have a doilie wrapper in future.


Cupcake Bouquets

Last week I was asked by school to make some cakes for a surprise leaving party being held for one of teaching assistant's who was leaving after 22 years. As she takes care of the school garden they wanted them to be based around a garden theme. There wasn't a lot of time for me to spend making fancy decorations or sugar paste roses with Jack being at home so I opted to make some bouquets that I'd seen on the Internet.

I was asked to make 30 cakes so I did 3 bouquets (7 cakes in each) and some extras to go on a cake stand.

They were really quite easy to make and as the bouquets can be made in advance it doesn't take lots of last minute preparation.


1. Cut a sheet of A4 card in half lengthways and tape the ends together to make a cylinder
2. Staple 7 plastic party cups together, 6 cups around a central cup
3. Sit the cups inside the cardboard cylinder
4. Cut a large square of cellophane and lay 2 pieces of tissue paper over it, sit the cake stand in the centre
5. Fold each side of the cellophane/tissue in and then the ends - use pegs to hold in place whilst you tie ribbon around if you don't have an extra pair of hands.
6. Tie ribbon around to secure in place - it can be a bit fiddly & tape is useful to stop the ribbon slipping, then remove pegs and open out the cellophane/tissue - it's now ready to pop your cakes in.

For the cakes I used my favourite Vanilla Cupcake recipe from the Primrose Bakery, which I've shared before here and made vanilla buttercream with some pink food colouring added.


110g Butter, softened
60ml milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g icing sugar
food colouring (optional)

  • Beat the butter, milk, vanilla & half the icing sugar until pale & creamy
  • Beat in the rest of the icing sugar and beat again until smooth
  • Add a few drops of food colouring if using

I iced some of the cakes using a Wilton 1M tip, aiming to create a rose effect by starting off in the middle and piping clockwise around towards the edge. The others were iced using a moon shaped tip and piping 'petals' around - an effect that I'd seen on You Tube.

This is my amateur 'how to' video - I'm no expert and this is the first time I tried this method so it shows how easy it is... (more practice on positioning the camera needed!)

Some wafer daisies, rice paper butterflies and edible balls were added as the finishing touch.




It was in fact so easy to make these that Sam and 2 of his friends made this for their teacher (some help with the bouquet but the cupcake icing was all done by the 3 of them).


Tuesday 17 July 2012

10 Minute Cardboard Box Oven

Jack was making 'cakes' with Play-doh this morning, rolling and shaping and popping into cake cases in a mini muffin pan. He then needed to bake them, obviously, but his microwave's on the blink and really needed a proper oven. I didn't have time to nip to Ikea and buy one of those super duper life-like ovens so instead set about transforming a cardboard box.

First up I taped the top of the box up as that was now going to be the back. I then turned it on its end and cut a door out of the front. A door needs a handle so a strip of cardboard and some tape et voila.....


All ovens have a shelf inside so I folded a couple of squares of scrap card 90 degrees and taped them onto the insides of the oven for the shelf to rest on.....


Control knobs were made out of circles of card covered in foil and taped in place....


The top was an A4 sheet of card with circles drawn on for the hotplates and smaller circles for the knobs....


Easy peasy oven in around 10 minutes.



Wednesday 11 July 2012

Chocolate Oreo Muffins

Our cake box had run dry so it was time to fill it back up again. I'd stocked up on eggs yesterday so I was ready to go. I decided to make chocolate muffins but upon checking the cupboard realised I was out of cocoa powder so it was time to improvise again using some other chocolate products that I did have in the cupboard.


Chocolate Oreo Muffins.

150g Dark Muscovado sugar
150ml sunflower oil
100g dark chocolate
4 tbsp yoghurt (I used vanilla)
3 Eggs
300g Self Raising flour
12 Chocolate Oreos
40g Chocolate spread
  • Heat the sugar and oil in a pan over a low heat until the sugar starts to dissolve
  • Remove from heat & stir in the chocolate, until it has melted, allow to cool
  • Beat in the yoghurt and eggs
  • Stir in the flour until just combined
  • Spoon into the cupcake cases to about 1/3 full (I did it to half full but I think 1/3 would be better)
  • Place an Oreo on top and then 1/2 tsp chocolate spread
  • Fill with remaining muffin batter
  • Bake in a 180 degree (C) oven for 15-18 minutes



Monday 9 July 2012

Salmon Fish Cakes

Sometimes you have an idea of what you want to cook for dinner, and then you realise that you don't have all the ingredients. That was me yesterday when, halfway through making fish cakes, I realised that I'd forgotten to buy eggs. I had three options, either go to the shop and buy eggs, abandon the fish cakes until another day or carry on regardless. As the husband was out and I didn't fancy bundling Jack into the car & then carrying him around the shop just for eggs, and I had nothing else planned for dinner, I decided to carry on regardless, winging it as I went.

Makes approx 8 fish cakes
500g Boiled Potatoes
2 Cans of Wild Pink Salmon, drained
1 tsp chilli powder
3 tbsp Coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
bunch of coriander, finely chopped
2 Spring onions, chopped
Olive oil for frying

For the coating
100g Oatmeal
100ml Coconut milk
100g breadcrumbs

  • Mash the potatoes, salmon, chilli, coconut milk, lime juice and coriander together, stir in the spring onions
  • Take a large handful of mix and form it into a patty, repeat with the rest of the mix
  • Add the oatmeal, coconut milk and breadcrumbs to individual plates or wide bowls
  • Dip the fish cakes first into the oatmeal, covering all round, then into the milk and lastly into the breadcrumbs
  • Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry each fish cake until browned on both sides, repeat until all the fish cakes are browned
  • Transfer to a baking tray and cook in a 200 degree (C) oven until crispy all over and warmed completely through

Great served with a bag of the local chippy's finest..... 

They were perhaps a little more difficult to handle than if an egg had been used but they turned out great in the end and, like of said before, anything that Jack eats is a winner in my eyes!

I was sent Princes Wild Alaskan Salmon to use in family friendly recipes

Sunday 8 July 2012

Salmon Pots

I'm not a great lover of fish but the husband was over the moon when we got sent some Princes Wild Alaskan Salmon to review. First up I made some Salmon pots which can be made very quickly and eaten straight away or left in the fridge to firm up a bit.

1 Can Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon, drained
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 red chilli, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
black pepper
50g Butter, melted
200g Philadephia light cream cheeese 
  • Whizz up all the ingredients, except the cream cheese, in a food processor until smooth
  • Mix in the cream cheese
  • Divide into 4 small ramekins and eat straight away or chill overnight in the fridge
Use as a pate on crackers, or as a dip with home made tortilla chips whilst watching the Wimbledon Men's Final.


I was sent Princes Wild Alaskan Salmon to use in family friendly recipes

Monday 2 July 2012

Raspberry & Almond Custard Breakfast Muffins

A couple of weeks ago Foodies 100 were looking for bloggers to take part in a recipe competition with Blue Diamond Almonds and sent a carton of Almond Breeze almond milk to help us on our way. The challenge is to come up with a breakfast recipe using the milk.
Almond Breeze is a great alternative to dairy milk as it has less than half the calories of skimmed milk and is a good source of calcium and vitamins, therefore, when you eat a custard filled muffin made with Almond Breeze for your breakfast you know it's going to be good for you....right?


Makes 12 Muffins

For the Custard (make in advance & allow to cool)
100ml Almond Breeze milk (unsweetened)
tsp vanilla Extract
1 Egg yolk
20g Golden Caster Sugar
1 tbsp Cornflour
  • Bring the almond milk to the boil & remove from heat
  • Whisk the vanilla, eggs, sugar & cornflour together
  • Whisk in the almond milk & return to the heat, stirring constantly until thickened
  • Pour into a bowl, cover and allow to cool fully

150g Golden Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract
75ml Almond Breeze milk (unsweetened)
150ml Sunflower oil
200g Self Raising flour
100g Ground Almonds
1 tsp Baking Powder
150g Frozen Raspberries
Cooled custard
handful Flaked almonds 

  • Beat the sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk and oil together
  • Fold in the flour, ground almonds and baking powder until just mixed together
  • Reserve 12 whole raspberries and crumble the rest into the muffin mix (if you don't have frozen raspberries then cut them into quarters)
  • Line a muffin pan with cases
  • Fill each muffin case half full with mix
  • Place a teaspoonful of custard into the centre of each muffin case
  • Place a raspberry on top of the custard 
  • Divide the rest of the mix between the cases, making sure that the custard and raspberry are covered completely
  • Scatter over some flaked almonds
  • Bake in a 180 degree (C) oven for approx 20 minutes
  • Remove from tin and place onto a wire rack to cool


These are great served warm whilst the custard is still runny


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