Category Archives: Recipes

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Brownies by Bella! #BookoutureXmas

  
These fabulous brownies are featured heavily in ‘Bella’s Christmas Bake Off’ By Sue Watson- and the recipe is also included in the book – it was only fair that I gave the recipe a go and try them! They are so easy to make and taste lovely, and really get you in the Christmas mood. As part of #BookoutureXmas I have the recipe for you here on the blog! Why not give them a go and get that Christmas feeling?

  

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Brownie Recipe from ‘Bella’s Christmas Bake Off’ 

These delicious, cranberry studied brownies always take me right back to my friend Amy’s house at Christmas. It was always warm and cosy and in the vanilla and cinnamon scented kitchen we would ‘help’ her mum by sampling the batter and scattering the dried cranberries, which we’d pretend were Rudolph noses. Every Christmas Eve, Amy’s mum would leave one of these for Father Christmas and one for Rudolph, and on Christmas Morning they were gone – which is why we kept believing in Father Christmas.

This is Amy’s mother’s recipe…

 

250g dark chocolate

100g butter, plus a little extra for greasing the tin

3 eggs

250g cooked beetroot, drained

250g light brown sugar

150g ground almonds

2tbsp cocoa

1tbsp baking powder

50g dried cranberries

Teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 23cm square baking tin with a little butter and line with non-stick baking paper. Leave two ‘tails’ at either side to help you lift the cooked brownie out of the tin.

 

Break up the chocolate into squares, place in a heatproof bowl with the butter, and set over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow the mixture to gently melt, while stirring gently.

 

Tip the beetroot into a food processor and purée, (Amy’s mum used to mash with a strong potato masher, but I love my gadgets!) Then add the melted chocolate, butter and eggs and whizz again until combined. Then add the sugar, ground almonds, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon and process until you have a smooth batter. Lift the lid off – breathe in, and the sweet, spicy fragrance of chocolate and cinnamon will take you straight to Christmas heaven.

 

Now pour into the baking tin, sprinkle on the cranberries (Rudolph noses) and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is set and the brownie is starting to pull a little away from the sides of the tin.

 

Once out of the oven, ease the brownie from the tin with the paper ‘tails’ and cut into 16 squares. When cool, dust the surface with a little icing sugar, while singing ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.’

 

Happy Christmas!

Love, Bella x


 Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson is published by Bookouture and is out now! Read my 5* review here


Peanut Hottie Recipe – Peanut Banana Oaty Muffins [low syn slimming world]

I was asked recently if I would like to try and do something creative in the kitchen with Peanut Hottie.

I have had a lot of fun trying Peanut Hottie and seeing what you can cook with it! I had never thought of cooking with it before.  It tastes lovely as a hot drink and a great alternative to a hot chocolate. At 83 calories per cup it is a great low fat treat. It is also suitable for vegetarians caffeine free (great for bedtime!) and no artificial additives or colours. Peanut Hottie have just released a new version, Chocolate Peanut Hottie, which is divine! I just had to see what I could do with it in a recipe, it’s a winning combo! 

So, Here is my recipe for Peanut Banana Oaty Muffins

 Ingredients: 

 30g Oats (I used a packet of Oat So Simple Multigrain)

2 x eggs, beaten

1 x mullerlight yoghurt, (I used vanilla with dark chocolate sprinkles) – you could use any low fat yogurt 

 2 x teaspoons Peanut Butter and Chocolate Hottie 

 Half a ripe banana, mashed 

 Method: 

 Add oats to a bowl. 

 Add yoghurt and stir together

Add 2 x teaspooons of Peanut Butter and Chocolate Hottie. 

 Add the eggs and mix well until all combined. 

Add the banana and stir.

Seperate into 6 muffin tins, and cook in the oven 200 degrees until cooked (15-20 minutes). 

 Allow to cool, serve with fresh banana and perhaps some yoghurt or chocolate sauce. 

  

These are really nice, great for a quick brekkie or a snack. They are a little more squidgy than normal muffins just to warn you, but I found them pleasant enough to eat. I would maybe add more oats to give them a more flapjack feel in hindsight and something I will try soon! 

 Why not try….PANCAKES

You could also use this mixture to make some american style “magic” pancakes – watch this space as I will give this a go very soon and show you what they look like! 

Slimming World Notes:

On slimming world, at the time of publishing, the oats would be your HEB. Syn the cooked banana (2 syns) and the peanut hottie (10g = 2 syns) and you have 6 muffins for 4 syns (about 0.5 syns per muffin) (if not using HEB then add 6 syns =10 syns for 6 or 1.5 syns a muffin).

If making this, make sure you weigh and count everything and check your values in the book or online – as syns can change!   

Chocolate Peanut Hottie is £2.99 and available from Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose. 

For more recipe ideas with Peanut Hottie check out their Recipe Page. 

I’ve really enjoyed using Peanut Hottie so keep your eyes peeled for some more recipes soon! 

I was sent some Peanut Hottie in order to create a recipe. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Egg Fried Cauliflower ‘Rice’!

I have heard a lot about cauliflower rice, but I wasn’t really sure what to do, or how to make it. However, curiosity got the better of me, and also the fact that I wanted to cut down on carbs. Cauliflower seemed the answer. I totally just threw this all together, but it was lovely, and I couldn’t have guessed it was cauliflower, and not real rice.

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If you are doing Weight watchers, then on a Filling and Healthy day, this meal is free, or if you are tracking points, you need to point the eggs and the peas. Pretty sure this would be free on slimming world as well, but best to check on that.

I used:

half a cauliflower, grated using normal grater to make the ‘rice’

1 Onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Babycorn, Courgette, red pepper chopped small (or use whatever veg you want)

handful of frozen peas

2 eggs, beaten

soy sauce, to taste

black pepper, to taste

What I Did:

I  started off by frying my onions and garlic really well, until translucent and just starting to brown. This can take a few minutes.

I then added my peppers and courgettes, and let them cook well for a few minutes. I then added the baby corn and again left to cook for a few minutes. I then added the frozen peas and stirred them into the veg.

Once your veg is all cooked through, add your cauliflower ‘rice’. Stir well, and let it cook for several minutes, stirring frequently. I wanted to make sure the cauliflower was well cooked so I left it for a few minutes, and tasted it to see if it was cooked enough.

Once cooked through, add your beaten eggs. I like to pour the eggs in, leave for a moment so it starts to solidify, and then stir quickly to break it up. This way you know your egg is well cooked. Add soy sauce and pepper to taste, and stir to ensure all veg and egg is thoroughly mixed through.

Serve and eat immediately!

 

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Make Your Own Easter Eggs!

With Easter coming up it’s always nice to get in the mood and try and be a bit creative. As you may know, I am not very crafty but I do like to get involved in seasonal edible treats!

Waitrose Online very nicely sent me all I could possibly need to make my own Easter eggs and decorate them to my hearts content.

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Waitrose online have a fab page for Easter with lots of ideas for having fun over the holidays. You can download the sheet for how to make your own Easter eggs here.

So to make your eggs you need:

Dark or milk Chocolate (250g or so)
A heat proof bowl
A saucepan with hot water
A pastry brush
Things to decorate with!
Easter egg moulds

I broke my chocolate up into tiny bits and then heated it in a glass heat proof bowl over a saucepan with hot water underneath.

Let the chocolate melt, but don’t let it boil.

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Once melted, get your egg moulds and using the pastry brush paint the chocolate onto the mould. You need to try and get the chocolate as even as possible and make sure it’s thick enough around the top sides.

Leave for 5 mins in the fridge or until set. Put another layer of chocolate on the egg and leave to set again.

I think they need as long as you can give them to set, I found it easier to get them out if they’d set for longer.

Now here’s the tricky bit. You have to get the egg out of the mould.

My first try was not successful:

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This was because the choc wasn’t thick enough around the edges, and I think it needed longer to set.

After this, I managed to get the egg out of the mould no problems!

Now the fun part: decorating.

Use a bit of melted chocolate on the egg to stick your decorations on.

Bubs really enjoyed eating decorating the eggs with the sweets and marshmallows. It was actually a fun way to touch a load of different textures, and we had fun putting the decorations on (and off) the egg.

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She got a bit carried away with the chocolate!

I had a go myself at a bit of an ‘artisan’ look. I used rose petals, honeycomb and these amazing chocolate popping candy pieces. I think it turned out ok!

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Now I’ve got the knack with the mould I will definitely be making more! I think these will make lovely presents and the fact they are homemade and home decorated really gives them the personal touch. It’s also a fun thing to do with children over the Easter hols. Let imaginations run wild!

I was sent all the ingredients I needed to make the chocolate Easter eggs plus decorations in order to undertake this activity. All words and opinions are my own.

Moroccan Style Vegetables and Couscous

This is a recipe I threw together after thinking I had nothing in for dinner. As it transpired I had all the ingredients in my cupboard and the freezer. I have made this many times since and is now a firm favourite. This is a very easy meal and it is very tasty!

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Ingredients:

Couscous (About 250g)

Vegetable Stock – about a pint

A dash of Olive Oil

knob of butter

Tin of Chickpeas 400g

Tin of Chopped Tomatoes (I used one with added Chilli and Pepper but you can use any)

vegetables of your choice, diced (or do what I do and use 1/2 Bag of Frozen Mediterranean Vegetables)

I also added these from the freezer but you can of course use fresh if you have them:

Handful of frozen peppers

Handful of frozen onions

Pinch of frozen garlic

Spices:

Paprika 1 tsp

Cumin half a tsp

Cinnamon a little dash

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Couscous:

Basically, you put the couscous in the dish with the vegetable stock, cover with foil and Leave for 5 mins for all the water to soak up. I use 250g of couscous for a pint of stock.

Once all water has soaked up, uncover and mix the butter, olive oil, and black pepper (to your taste) into the couscous.

Cover with the foil again and pop into the oven.

It will need 15-20 mins, so put in the oven once you have made the sauce. I put it in the oven at 200. Preheat oven before you start making the sauce!

Sauce:

  1. Get a saucepan and fry your onions and garlic. If they are frozen, you need to leave them a little bit longer as some water will come out, and you want to fry that off.
  2. Next, add your spices – I added a pinch of cinnamon, teeny bit of cumin, and paprika – do it to your taste.
  3. Leave for a minute for the spices to warm up a bit.
  4. Add your frozen veg (peppers, then your mediterranean veg. Some of this veg in the packet can be huge, so you may need to try to chop them up a bit before adding).
  5. Again, let the veg cook through, and leave to cook to get rid of a bit of the excess water.
  6. Now, add your tin of tomatoes stir throughly, and then add your chickpeas.
  7. Leave to cook for 15-20mins – put your couscous in the oven too.

Take the couscous out of the oven, use a fork to fluff it up. Spoon onto a plate or bowl, and then spoon on the sauce on top. Delish!

And there you have it, relatively quick, simple, and made up of things knocking around in your freezer! You could add any veg you have leftover into this dish.

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Lentil Pasta Sauce – Easy Recipe

I think we are still baby led weaning. Who knows? Bubs eats what we eat most the time. It’s usually easier that I make portions of big meals and freeze smaller portions for Bubs. We tend to eat together at least once a week as a family, but with my partner working shifts, sometimes it’s not possible.

Anyway, a slow cooker is a great way to make food that we can all eat, but maybe not all at the same time.

This lentil pasta sauce is based on one that I ate which was cooked by my partners mum. She saved us many a time from getting scurvy in the first few months of having a baby, by dropping round a healthy meal, and she gave us a lentil pasta sauce one time. I loved it so much I tried to recreate it.

Bubs loves this so much, she would rather eat the sauce then the pasta! Lentils are a great source of calcium, iron and B vitamins so are great for families like ours where we mainly eat a vegetarian diet (well, I’m the only one who eats meat).

This is a very easy slow cooker meal. I am sure you can cook this on the hob too, basically until all the lentils are cooked, but slow cooking really does make everything taste lovely.

Ps – I do everything by eye and as I made this up I didn’t really measure anything, and I never have. But it’s never gone wrong!

You will need:

Red lentils – probably about a quarter to half a packet
Onion – diced
Garlic – finely chopped or cheat like I do I with a teaspoon of the lazy stuff in the jar
Red pepper – diced
Carrot – diced
Chopped tomatoes
1 pint stock
200mls of water/half a tin of water (I use the chopped toms tin)

Method:

1. I always wash my lentils first, but that’s up to you.

2. I then layer the lentils into the slow cooker – probably about an inch and a half thick in the bottom of the slow cooker.

3. Then I chuck in the garlic, onions, red pepper, carrot, tin of chopped tomatoes, and the stock and mix thoroughly.

4. I put the slow cooker on low and I leave it to cook for about 6 hours, or put it on before I go to work and it’s ready before I get back!

After half an hour or so check your lentils, they can absorb a lot of water so you want to add a bit more at the point it’s not looking very watery. I say if you’re going out for the day, add the extra water from the beginning. It doesn’t hurt.

5. I love this sauce served with spaghetti and a bit of grated cheese. It’s comfort food at it’s very best.

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Slow Cooker Convert

I have had a slow cooker since about January this year. I bought it with the tokens I was given from work when I went on Maternity leave. And there it sat, gathering dust, until about a week ago.slowcookerconvert

I used to love cooking my own food, but having a newborn baby, tiredness, emotions, hormones – I have never been as unhealthy as i have been over the last 8 months. I try to limit my intake of processed foods, takeaways were something that I hardly ever had, and were a real treat.  I can’t say I was a saint with food, but I was quite happy to rustle up food after work.

So one day, I got so fed up. I looked over to the corner and saw the slow cooker standing there. I ripped it out of the packaging, and I decided to give it a go. I’d been shopping and decided I would use the veg this week, instead of letting it go off as usual.

And I must say, it has helped me out so much!

We chose the slow cooker mainly because there was two in the shop, and we just chose which one we liked the look of! What we have got is a Crock-pot 3.5 litre slow cooker. It has 3 settings – low, high and keep warm. 1 hour on high is about 2 on low if I remember correctly. It’s very easy to use, and the 3.5l is plenty big enough for me, my partner and bubs. Now I’ve got the bug though, and I am very tempted to try a gammon or pork in the slow cooker (all for myself! haha) but I may need a bigger one for that. As it is just for me, I am hoping I can get some small cuts of meat to give it a go.

I have made vegetable casserole, vegetable korma and a vegetable stew. I got back into cooking so much I even made my lentil chilli, even when I had left it too late to get the slow cooker out. It has reinvigorated my love of cooking and i am thinking of different things to try. Bubs is loving it, as she is getting loads of nutritious meals, full of veg and pulses and beans.

There are loads of facebook groups and g+ groups about slow cooking, and they have been really helpful as well as full of recipes to try. You can cook roast chickens, bake cakes and even cook bread in a slow cooker!

I have tended to make up a recipe as I go along, and so far it hasn’t gone wrong. I chuck whatever veg we have in, as well as stock, passata, chopped tomatoes, curry paste/herbs/spices/sauces and leave all day – at least 7 hours on low.  Here is what I did to make Vegetable Casserole:

 

Vegetable Casseroleslowcookingingredients

Ingredients:

carrots

swede

sweet potato

pepper

1 leek

2 celery sticks

1 onion

baby potatoes

1 tin chopped tomatoes

baby corn

passata (half a jar)

stock (I filled the empty chopped tomatoes tin with water and 1 teaspoon of stock powder)

tomato paste (couple of squeezes)

Method:

I chopped all the veg up, added it to the slow cooker, added the tomatoes, passata, stock and gave it all a good stir. i did had a small sprinkle of herbs – it says in the instruction book that dried herbs can over do it in the slow cooker so to only had a small amount.slowcooker

I am feeling so much better in myself for eating healthier, getting back to cooking food from scratch and think it has made me feel a bit better mentally as well as physically. With slow cooking, you don’t really need to add oils or fats, so it really is low-fat cooking as well. I was also quite chuffed to find out you can chuck in frozen veg into the slow cooker – I have quite stock of frozen bits and pieces.

It may be a slightly lazy way to cook, but it has really helped me to get my cooking mojo back. I really think it will come into its own when I get back to work. I am hoping I can prep the food the night before, then chuck it all in to the slow cooker in the morning, before I go to work.

As we are currently eating a veggie diet in the house (although I eat meat, I don’t tend to cook it for main family meals) I am really trying to find different and tasty veggie slow cooking meals – if you have any you’d like to share, leave me a comment!

PG Tips ‘Royal-Tea-Cup’ Cocktail

Tea in a Cocktail? OK Then!

As you know, I am a big lover of everything tea. So when PG Tips told me about the cocktail they have created in celebration of the new Royal Baby, I thought it would be a really fun thing to do! And as it included my favourite tea in the whole world, how could I refuse?

When they sent me the ingredients in order to make the cocktail, I really couldn’t say no!

The Fruit Cup style cocktail takes inspiration straight from the royal wedding day to combine details from the pair’s nuptials with quintessentially English ingredients, resulting in a rich and refreshing PG tipple packed full of Britishness and served in dainty tea cups.

To enjoy a very British punch, the below recipe makes 10-12 teacups or 6-8 longer drinks (I must say I went for the longer drink option!)

 

Ingredients:ingredients

6 British strawberries with the core removed

A handful of fresh mint leaves, ripped

100ml freshly boiled water

1 PG tips The Rich One teabag

75g sugar

50ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 ½ lemons)

½ an unwaxed lemon’s rind, peeled and chopped

15ml elderflower cordial

100ml English apple juice

200-400ml gin

350ml soda water or sparkling water

350ml English sparkling wine (or cava)

For non-alcoholic punch:

Omit the gin and sparkling wine and use 150ml apple juice and 550ml soda water instead

Garnish:

Lots of fresh ice in big chunks

Slices of cucumber skin

Rose petals

Slices of strawberries

 

 

Method:

strawberriesandmint

Step 1: In a pestle and mortar, roughly crush the strawberries and mint leaves together. (I had no pestle and mortar but I had a small bowl and a wooden spoon, and that more or less did the trick!)

 

 

Step 2: Mix the crushed mint and strawberries with the hot water, PG tips The Rich One teabag, sugar, lemon juice and rind then stir until all the sugar hmixturestandas dissolved. Leave to stand for 8-10 minutes, then strain, reserving the syrup

 

 

Step 3: In a large bowl or jug, mix the syrup with the elderflower, apple juice and gin to taste. (The mix can be chilled for a few hours at this point until ready to serve.)

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Step 4: When ready to serve, add large blocks of ice, the soda water and sparkling wine. Stir gently to combine

Step 5: To serve, line teacups with a sliver of cucumber skin, shaved using a potato peeler, then fill the cup with freroyalteacupcocktailsh ice. Serve using a ladle

Step 6: Garnish with a red rose petal and a slice of strawberry in the shape of a heart

 

 

 

 

Taste Test

This is a lovely cocktail and tasted lovely and fresh, just the right amount of sweet, and was not too overpowering with alcohol. I know a few people I spoke to were wondering what the teabag/tea taste would be like, well it all blended really well together and whilst you can taste the tea it doesn’t overpower or taste strange – it really brings all the ingredients together. It was easy to do, and was not too messy and most of all it was quite quick to put all the ingredients together – you just wait 10 mins, strain, and voila, it’s done. Its probably easier if you have some of the kitchen equipment rather than improvising like me! You could make up the syrup beforehand and then add the alcohol or juice when you’re ready to serve. I think this is a lovely drink for a dinner party or a celebration. And as it was made in celebration of the new royal baby, I will say Congratulations and Bottoms Up to Kate and Wills!

Non-Alcohol Version

Oh, and if you happen to have a little bun in the oven yourself, or don’t drink alcohol, it is easy to adjust – just add apple juice and soda water instead of the gin and the wine. It tastes just as nice, and is really refreshing. I love both versions so it’s a total hit from me!

As someone who loves tea, I really enjoyed trying this cocktail and using tea in a different way. I think I will look at other ways to use tea in drinks and cooking, and will blog about that too!

If you try out the cocktail, let me know what you think! Or if you use tea in recipes, let me know!

I was sent the ingredients for this cocktail in order to make the cocktail and try it. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.

Egg Mains in Minutes Competition – Egg and Bacon Noodles

Quick, Tasty and Delicious

Quick, Tasty and Delicious

Egg and Bacon Noodles are quick, easy, delicious and healthy. I love whipping this up when I am in need of something filling, tasty and that doesn’t take too long to cook. It’s also a great way to use up leftovers in the fridge or when you only have a few essential items in! It’s a very versatile recipe and you can amend the amounts to suit your own family’s tastes. It is also rather healthy especially if you use low-fat spray and cut the fat off the bacon.

Ingredients:

Bacon (I use 2 rashers per person, but that’s just me!)

1 Egg per person

Egg Noodles

Veggies: Anything you have left in the fridge which go well in a stir fry – I used Courgettes, Red onions, peppers in the picture but I think you could add just about anything!

Soy Sauce

Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Cook your bacon in a frying pan. I use a low-fat spray just to coat the pan, the fat on the bacon will cook itself. I like to cook the bacon so it is slightly crispy.
  2. Whilst the bacon is cooking, boil the water for your noodles and chop up your veg into chunks. Crack open your eggs into a small container and whisk up. Add a little pepper and soy sauce. (If you want you could also add some chinese 5 spice to the eggs, which will make this also taste extremely tasty!)
  3. when your bacon is cooked to your liking, take it out of the frying pan, dry on some paper towels. Carefully remove fat (if you so wish) and then slice up the bacon into bite-size chunks.
  4. Add your noodles to the boiled water, and cook according to instructions – usually they take about 4 mins.
  5. Whilst noodles are cooking, add a little more low-fat spray to the pan, and add the veggies. As the pan is nice and hot, it won’t take very long for them to cook, I like to cook them until they are a little browned.
  6. Remove the noodles from the pan once cooked, and drain using a collinder. Keep them to one side for a moment.
  7. Add your bacon back to the veggies in the pan, and mix together.
  8. Add your eggs to the pan, and scramble them into the veg and bacon. Cook to your liking. I like my eggs quite well cooked.
  9. Add your noodles, and mix into the bacon and egg mix. Add a little soy sauce whilst you mix the noodles in. Add some pepper to taste.
  10. Serve in nice big bowls, and tuck in!