The Crazy Kitchen: November 2013

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Saturday 30 November 2013

Malteser Vodka

After I made my toffee and cherry vodka's I had a little vodka left in the bottle and carried out a little experiment. I added 2 treatsize bags of Maltesers to it, shook it up a little, warmed it up a little and savoured the result, which was amazing. I had created something that was not unlike Baileys, which was thick and creamy.

The following week I popped another bottle of vodka in with the weekly shop along with a couple of boxes of Maltesers and made a larger batch.

It's going to be perfect for Christmas, over ice or ice cream or in coffee.

Malteser Vodka

Malteser Vodka

Half a bottle of vodka (approx 350ml)
2 x 120g boxes of Maltesers (for those that don't know what Maltesers are

  • Put the Maltesers into an empty bottle that has been sterilised
  • Pour in the vodka
  • Place the lid on and shake vigorously 
  • Shake regularly over a couple of days until the Maltesers have dissolved - this procedure can be sped up by placing the bottle in a bowl of warm water

Thursday 28 November 2013

Christmas Party Food - Mini Falafel Pies

With Christmas descending upon us rapidly I'm thinking more and more about food, not just food for the big day itself but also for Christmas Eve when we have family coming. We have plans for the day and I don't want to spend too much of it in the kitchen cooking, and plan to make the bulk of the party snacks and appetisers in advance.

Supermarket sausage rolls are often a good party staple to have in the freezer ready for any unexpected guests but these mini falafel pies are a great alternative for vegetarians, or if you prefer home made sausage rolls with a little twist - no sausage, ha!

They are very simple to make and the the falafel mix can be made in advance and kept in the fridge.

Mini Falafel Pies

Mini Falafel Pies - makes 8

250g chickpeas
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
handful of fresh coriander
drizzle of olive oil
250g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
  • Add the chickpeas, spices & olive oil to a food processor and blend until smooth (ish)
  • Roll the pastry out to a large rectangle approx 25cm in length
  • Straighten the edges of the pastry if necessary and cut into 8 equal rectangles
  • Spoon some of the falafel mixture onto one half of the rectangle
  • Brush around the edge of the pastry with beaten egg and fold over the mixture
  • Seal the edges with the prongs of a fork and place on a baking tray
  • Repeat with the remaining mixture and pastry
  • Brush all the pies with beaten egg
  • Place in a preheated 200 C oven for approx 15 - 20 minutes, until golden brown

Serve warm with mango chutney and yoghurt for dipping

Mini Falafel Pies

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Coffee Vodka & Boozy Mocha Mousse

Last week I made my Russian Toffee Coffee using a shot of Toffee Vodka to perk up the coffee. This week I've made a coffee flavoured vodka that makes a great after dinner drink over ice, or can be added to coffee for an extra kick. It can also be used in recipes such as Tiramisu, coffee cake or added to a mousse.

Coffee Vodka

It can be made in whatever quantity you choose, making the coffee syrup first and then adding the vodka to taste.

Coffee Vodka

75g dark soft brown sugar
150ml espresso coffee
100ml vodka

  • Add the sugar and coffee to a saucepan and bring to the boil
  • Simmer for 10 minutes
  • Pour the coffee syrup into a sterilised bottle and add the vodka

Coffee Vodka

It is really that simple, and the end result is not unlike the taste of Tia Maria - delicious if you are a coffee lover.

Now that you've made the coffee vodka you can use it to pour over ice cream, in baking and also whip up this very delicious mousse. This recipe serves one but you can just increase the quantities for additional servings.

Boozy Mocha Mousse
- serves 1

50ml Double cream
50g Nutella chocolate spread
1 tbsp Coffee Vodka
  • Whisk the ingredients together until they form soft peaks
  • Pour into a glass or small dish & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
Boozy Mocha Mousse

Monday 25 November 2013

Oven Baked Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar Chips

We sometimes have chips twice in one week *gasp*, but it's not something that I feel guilty about because they are home-made chips, baked in the oven using Olive oil. They are one of the easiest potato dishes to make, and the kids love them. They are so much easier than mash as there is no need to peel the spuds, just give them a good wash.

In the summer I shared a recipe for my best no fry chips, which is basically what these are, except these have an added twist of being cooked in Balsamic vinegar.

Oven Baked Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar Chips

Oven Baked Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar Chips - serves 4

1 kg potatoes, cut into 1cm chips
3 tbsp Olive oil
3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
good pinch of Sea salt

  • Wash and dry the chips
  • Add to a large baking tin and pour over the olive oil and balsamic
  • Toss the chips in the oil and vinegar until fully coated
  • Sprinkle with the sea salt and place in the preheated 200C oven for around 45 minutes, until golden brown, turning every 10-15 minutes
Serve with Balsamic mustard for dipping

Oven Baked Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar Chips

I was sent Maille Balsamic Vinegar and Maille Wholegrain Mustard with Balsamic to try out

Thursday 21 November 2013

Russian Toffee Coffee

When I think of warming winter drinks I automatically think of Irish Coffees (aside from mulled wine). An Irish coffee is a perfect way to end a meal or to warm up on a cold and snowy night - it's not unusual for me to order an Irish coffee in the local pub after a session of snow angelling.

Last weekend I made some toffee vodka for Christmas. I think I made it too soon though as there is already a substantial amount missing from the bottle as I've discovered it's lovely in coffee, so when Tassimo gave me a challenge of creating a winter warmer drink it had to be this.

Russian Toffee Coffee

Russian Toffee Coffee

Shot of Toffee Vodka
Scoop of Kelly's clotted cream and Honeycomb ice cream (or another flavour of your choice)
Tassimo Espresso shot
Whipped cream
chocolate sprinkles
Cinnamon stick stirrer 
  • Add a shot of toffee vodka to a glass
  • Add a scoop of ice cream on top
  • Pour in a freshly brewed shot of Espresso
  • Top with whipped cream and decorate with chocolate sprinkles

Russian Toffee Coffee
Russian Toffee Coffee

I was sent a selection of Tassimo drinks along with additional ingredients to make my Winter Warmers

Cheesy Vegetable Parcels with Herby Chips & Honey Mustard Mayo

I love it when I receive a set of food items and am challenged to make something with them. Last week a very large box arrived filled with lots of goodies from brands under the Unilever umbrella.

Unilver hamper

There were lots of Knorr stock pots which are going to come in very handy in soups and stews over these winter months. As I'm a little bit addicted to wrapping food in filo pastry since I made turkey spring rolls, I decided to make some filo parcels to contain whatever it was that I was going to cook.  I decided in the end to try out one of the Colman's Season & Steam bags to cook some vegetables to go in the parcels, to be accompanied by home baked chips (very popular in this household) and a honey mustard mayo (not so polular). These quantities will feed a family of 4.

The herby chips have been crowned 'THE best chips you've ever made' by 13yr old Sam.

Vegetable Parcels with Herby Chips & Honey Mustard Mayo

Vegetable Parcels - makes 12

2 tomatoes, each cut into 8
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 courgette, cut in half lengthways & then sliced
1 packet of Colmans Season & Steam Mediterranean Vegetables
100g Bavarian smoked cheese, grated
6 sheets of Filo pastry, halved
75g Flora buttery, melted

  • Follow the directions on the pack to cook the vegetables, allow to cool
  • Mix the vegetables with the cheese
  • Lay the sheets of filo into a pile and one at a time add a spoonful of vegetable mixture to the lower right hand corner of the pastry 
  • Brush around the edges of the filo with the Flora buttery
  • Fold the corner over the filling, fold the sides in and roll up into a parcel & place on a baking sheet
  • Repeat with the remaining filo & filling
  • Brush each parcel with more Flora buttery
  • Bake in a 220 C oven for approx 20 minutes until golden brown

Vegetable Parcels with Herby Chips & Honey Mustard Mayo

Herby Chips

1kg potatoes, cut into 1cm chips
3 tbsp olive oil
1 Knorr herb infusions stock pot
  • Wash and dry the chips
  • Add the oil to a large baking tin and place in a 220C oven for 5 minutes
  • Remove and stir the stock pot into the oil
  • Toss in the chips and coat in the oil and herbs
  • Cook for approx 45 minutes, tossing every 10-15 minutes

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Honey Mustard Mayo

125g Hellmanns real Mayonnaise
25g Maille Dijon mustard with honey

  • Mix the mayo & mustard together

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Toffee Vodka

This is the second of my home-made alcoholic drinks for Christmas, my first being Cherry Vodka. Whereas that one is best left for a few months, this is good to drink within a couple of days. I have my sister in law to thank for putting this idea into my head and just had to try it for myself.

Toffee Vodka

500ml bottle with secure stopper
135g Werthers Original butter candies

  • If the neck on the bottle is wide enough you can put the Werthers straight into the bottle, otherwise you may have to cut them in half.
  • Once all of the sweets are in the bottle then just top up with vodka and pop a lid on.
  • Over the next couple of days shake the bottle to dissolve the sweets
  • Once they are fully dissolved it's ready to drink

Toffee Vodka

Coming soon ..... Malteser Vodka!

I was sent the above bottle as part of a package from Pattesons Glass. This is a corked 500ml Stephanie bottle.

Home Made Chocolate Peppermint Bark

If you have a Dr Who fan in the family then Lakeland have the range for you at the moment. There is a huge range of bakeware, here is just a small selection of what they have.....

Doctor Who at Lakeland

We haven't got any Dr Who fans in this household so when Lakeland asked if I wanted to review some of the range I politely declined and cheekily asked instead if I could review a Peppermint Bark Mould that I had seen used on someone else's blog (which I now can't find for the life of me! *). I've made Peppermint bark before but only in a baking tray - this mould makes it look so much more professional, and perfect for gifts.

Chocolate Peppermint BarkChocolate Peppermint Bark

The mould has 2 sections to enable you to make 2 bars at the same time, with each bar containing approximately 200g of chocolate. I used a combination of milk, white and dark chocolate for these.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

I then used some Lakeland presentation bags and ribbon (models own) to make them look fit to fill somebody's Christmas stocking.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

I'm going to be trying all different flavours to make gifts for everyone, and do you know what the best part about making your own chocolate gifts is? nobody knows that you've used smartprice chocolate...shhhhhh!

* EDIT : the post has been kindly pointed out to me, hurrah, and it's this lovely one here, with pistachio & cranberry on the chocolate.

The peppermint bark mould is just £5.99 & I was sent this and the bags for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Cherry Vodka

In preparation for Christmas I've been making a few of my own flavoured vodkas. Two years ago I made up a large batch of Cranberry vodka which we drank the last of last Christmas. My brother still had his bottle up until this year and said it was amazing when they eventually got around to drinking it, therefore this Cherry Vodka is not really something that you should be making for this Christmas, but maybe next or the one after!

I made 2 small bottles at the weekend and although they are good enough to drink now they will definitely improve with age over the next few months or so, and turn syrupy like a liquor. If you're feeling really generous you could tie some ribbon around the neck, pop a label on and give as a gift.

Cherry Vodka

For each 250ml bottle I used approximately the following quantities :

Cherry Vodka

100g Cherries (I used frozen cherries)
100g caster sugar
150ml vodka

  • Pop the cherries into the bottle
  • Pour the sugar in carefully
  • Top up with vodka
  • Place the lid on and gently agitate to dissolve as much of the sugar as possible 
  • Gently agitate each day until the sugar has dissolved completely
  • Leave to mature

Cherry Vodka

Cherry Vodka

Toffee Apple Pie

The nights are drawing in and a good stodgy pudding is what we all need, good old comfort food. This pie is perfect for those moments when you don't really feel like making much, or if you have little time, but still want a home-made pudding. The recipe is so simple, in fact I feel a bit of a fraud even calling it a recipe at all as there are only four ingredients! If you serve this up to your family they will think that you've been slaving away for hours.

Toffee Apple Pie

Toffee Apple Pie

8 medium eating apples (I used gala)
1 200g bag of wrapped toffees
250g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

  • Core & slice the apples into 8 (I don't bother to peel them)
  • Place the apples in a large microwavable bowl and cover with clingfilm
  • Microwave for 8 minutes
  • Drain the apples & place them in the pie dish
  • Place the toffees amongst the apples, spreading them around
  • Roll the pastry out until it's slightly larger than the pie dish
  • Brush around the edge of the dish with beaten egg
  • Place the pastry on and press down at the edge
  • Brush with beaten egg and bake in a 200C oven for approx 15-20 minutes, until golden brown

Toffee Apple Pie

Serve hot

Toffee Apple Pie

perfect with a scoop of Kelly's Clotted Cream & Honeycomb ice cream.

I was sent a voucher to enable me to buy a tub of Kelly's Ice Cream

Sunday 17 November 2013

Mulled Wine Christmas Cake

I can feel myself getting more and more excited about Christmas the closer we get to December. It will soon be time to get the Christmas tree up along with all the pretty fairy lights around the house which makes it feel so cosy. There is nothing better than getting cosy on the sofa with lights twinkling all around you and a glass of warm mulled wine in your hand.

I have been inspired by Schwartz to come up with an exciting recipe using Schwartz herbs and spices, of which I have many in my packed herbs & spices cupboard, and what better cake to make at this time of the year than a Christmas cake.

I was thinking about all the spices and fruit flavours that go into mulled wine and wondered if it would be possible to get those flavours into a cake. Mulled wine is very rich so this would have to be a very dark and rich cake, which is when I thought of my Mum's all time favourite boiled fruit cake which is much less labour intensive than making a regular Christmas cake. I don't have the exact recipe for her boiled fruit cake as she was away on holiday when I needed it, so I've made this up in the hope that it's not too far away from the original, and of course I've added some extra mulled wine flavours, like the wine for example!

Mulled Wine Christmas Cake

Mulled Wine Christmas Cake

50g butter
200g dark soft brown sugar
zest & juice of 1 orange
zest & juice of 1 lemon
350g mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas, raisins, cherries, cranberries & mixed peel)
vanilla pod
100ml water
100ml red wine
3 cinnamon sticks
piece of orange peel studded with 10 cloves
1 tsp mixed spice
2 eggs
300g self raising flour

  • Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan except the mixed spice, eggs and flour
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes
  • Allow to cool
  • Once cool remove the orange peel & cloves & the cinnamon sticks
  • Beat in the eggs, spice and flour until well combined
  • Pour into a greased & lined loose bottomed or springform cake pan
  • Bake in a preheated 160C oven for approx 1 hour - the length of time will depend on the size of your tin as well as your oven. Check after 45 mins, if a skewer comes out clean it is cooked.
You can serve naked (the cake NOT yourself) or decorate, and of course, it's best served with a warm glass of mulled wine...

Mulled Wine Christmas Cake Mulled Wine Christmas Cake Mulled Wine Christmas Cake

this recipe has been inspired by Schwartz products
I have also linked up to Lucy's Sunday Prop Shop, Nazima & Laura's One Ingredient Challenge and Karen & Kate's Teatime Treats

Tea Time Treats

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Friday 15 November 2013

A Very Merry Cadbury Christmas

My kids are loving 'this blogging lark' a lot at the moment, for one reason and one reason only - chocolate! Cadbury have been very kind to us recently and have sent lots of yumminess through the post to keep us sustained through these cold winter months.

Now that Christmas is nearing (less than 6 weeks away) it's time to start stocking up, after all Christmas is all about the 3 ch's - chocolate, cheese and champagne. Unfortunately Cadbury don't send us cheese or champagne but we are happy to make do with the chocolate for now.

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In a little over 2 weeks it will be time to open that first door on the advent calendar, and what a better way to start your day than with a little piece of Cadbury. Then it's time to dress the tree, not forgetting the Cadbury tree decorations, and to fill the stockings with chocolate coins, Wishes, Snow Bites, Freddo's and a Snowman and Santa. Oh and don't forget the selection boxes too....

Christmas Chocolate from Cadbury

The chocolate that we shared and loved last night is the Winter Wonderland, a 100g bar of milk and white chocolate christmas trees. I have it on good authority that they are just £1 in Tesco & Asda (and possibly other supermarkets) at the moment.

 photo wonderland_zpsd95d4cec.jpg
Winter Wonderland
I was sent a selection of Cadbury Chocolate for the purpose of this post

Thursday 14 November 2013

Chocolate Christmas Tree

If you're looking for something a little bit different to give to a chocolate lover this Christmas then why not make a chocolate christmas tree. It's very simple to put together and will look like something that a chocolatier would make (well not quite, but almost).

It's made from Cadbury Crispello Double Choc - chocolate coated wafers with a milk chocolate flavour filling, glued together with Cadbury Bournville dark chocolate, and topped with a Cadbury Wishes star.

Chocolate Christmas Tree

For this tree you will need around three and a half bags of Crispello.

Chocolate Christmas Tree

The directions above show how to form the tree and I decorated mine with mini chocolate beans and a dusting of icing sugar.

Chocolate Christmas Tree

The tree can be used as a table centrepiece or wrapped in cellophane and given as a gift. This tree is being donated to school to raise money for Children in Need but I will be making another for Christmas.

Chocolate Christmas Tree

I was sent bags of Crispello and a bar of Bournville to enable me to create the tree

Cinnamon Apple Focaccia

Bread making can get a little bit addictive. If I find a recipe that works I like to try it over and over again, changing ingredients each time, until we can eat no more...until the next time.

A couple of weeks ago it was breadsticks, of which I made a few batches, including garlic & rosemary and Pecan Raisin. The same dough can be made into focaccia and each time I saved a little and made a small focaccia, which was lovely and light and airy. This time I wanted to make one big focaccia but with a bit of a difference to the regular savoury breads, as I wanted to add apples and cinnamon. I'm not sure of the standard definition of a focaccia and I apologise if this is not a true focaccia but as it's the same basic dough recipe that's what I'm calling it.

Cinnamon Apple Focaccia

I wish I could say that all of these lovely apples are from the tree in our garden, but I can't as they have long since been eaten, so I used gala apples, from Asda! Don't they look great in my antique apple buckets though (more on those another time). I didn't bother to peel the apples, firstly because I don't like waste and secondly because I'm too lazy. I also proved the bread in the pan that I baked it in, to save on additional washing up.

Cinnamon Apple Focaccia

for the apples
5 small apples, cored & cut into bitesize pieces
75g light soft brown sugar
10g cinnamon
50g butter

for the dough
350g strong white bread flour - I used Tesco Finest very strong white bread flour
7g yeast
50g light soft brown sugar
75ml olive oil 
280ml cool water (approx)

  • Mix the apples, sugar, cinnamon & butter together in a large microwaveable bowl
  • Cover with clingfilm and cook for 8 minutes, stirring halfway through
  • Take out the apple and set aside to cool, leaving the cinnamon sauce in the bowl
  • Cover the bowl loosely and microwave the sauce for approx 5 minutes, stirring regularly and being careful not to burn it, then set it aside
  • Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, oil and half of the water together in a food mixer
  • Add the rest of the water with the motor running until you get a thick cake like batter, adding more water if necessary
  • Mix for approx 10 mins on high speed
  • Stir in around 200g of the cooled apples
  • Put dough into a large rectangular plastic food box or a well oiled roasting pan
  • Prove for approx 2 hours
  • If you have used a roasting pan to prove the dough you will not need to turn it out but if you proved in a box you will need to turn out carefully onto a well oiled baking sheet
  • Press some or all of the remaining apples into the dough and drizzle with some of the cinnamon sauce 
  • Bake in a 200 C oven for approx 15 minutes until golden on the top
  • Remove from the oven and drizzle with more cinnamon sauce
  • Delicous served warm or cold, on it's own or (if you're a bit weird like me) with slices of cheddar cheese - perfect for Christmas!
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I was sent the Tesco Finest flour to use in my baking as part of the Great Bloggers Bake Off 
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Tuesday 12 November 2013

Spiced Muesli Cake

I love the smells of Christmas, whether it be festive candles or the smells in the kitchen. I often add cinnamon and mixed spice to baking throughout the year but at this time of the year I might add a little bit more.

I made this cake for the first time at the weekend when I was about to make a sultana sponge and discovered that the sultanas had been scoffed - the other members of the family always add a handful to their breakfast cereal. I had a bag of fruit & nut muesli in the cupboard and as it was packed full of sultanas and raisins thought it would make a good substitute. The cake was enjoyed warm with custard or ice cream, as well as cold with a cuppa and was so popular that I made another for lunchboxes.

Spiced Muesli Cake

Spiced Muesli Cake

150ml milk
150g muesli
200g Stork (or butter)
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tsp Steenbergs mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp of demerara sugar & 1 tsp cinnamon for topping
  • Bring the milk to the boil and pour over the muesli & stir, set aside to cool
  • Beat the butter & sugar together until pale & creamy
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Beat in the muesli
  • Fold in the flour and spices and mix well
  • Pour mixture into a greased baking tin - I used a tin approx 25cm in diameter
  • Sprinkle with the demerara sugar and cinnamon
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 25 minutes, until golden brown
  • Allow to cool in the tin before turning out

Spiced Muesli Cake

Tasty Tuesdays on

I am joining in with Lou & Vanesther's Family Foodies challenge this month, which is lunchbox ideas. You can find more details on Vanesther's blog this month.

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I was sent some Steenbergs Mixed Spice and Stork to use in my baking as part of The Great Bloggers Bake Off

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