Chorizo & Potato Quesadillas

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This recipe is one my sister, Ally,  constructed after a trip to Wahaca in London where she had a similar dish. She then used the flavours to make her own version which is delicious!

For Mother’s Day, my sister Ally and I decided to make a Mexican Feast as a more personal touch than taking her out for a meal. When I say we made a feast, I wasn’t exaggerating!  We made these Quesadillas, Nachos, Chilli, Carnitas, Chicken Tinga as well as Quacamole, Salsa and Mexican Sweetcorn Salad. We had enough leftovers for everyone to take goodies home.

Ally and I spent the majority of the day at my house making all of these delicious dishes. It was quite a tiring day and we definitely earned our beer; but we also had a great time in the kitchen together.

The quesadillas have become a favourite dish in my house. Although I don’t add the onions, I do add peppers and sweetcorn. My sister usually adds these when she makes them at home, but we didn’t for the Mexican Feast to keep them simple. One of the great things about this recipe is you can adapt it to what you like.

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The first time I made them without Ally, I ended up making enough quesadillas to feed a family of six or more! This is because as my sister made up the recipe, her method was ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’ so I had to work out quantities of ingredients. However  benefit of making too many is I found out they are absolutely delicious cold the next day. I chose to not re-heat them because I was at work and using the microwave would have made them sort of soggy I thought. Although when cold they obviously didn’t have the crisp tortilla like when they were freshly cooked, the filling’s flavours seemed to intensify and become even more delicious.

The quantities below make enough quesadillas for 3-4 people (depending on how hungry they are!) 

600g potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced

130g chorizo, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 x 198g tin of sweetcorn, drained
1 pepper, diced

150g cheese, grated
½ tsp chili powder (I use a combination of different chili powders)
salt & pepper to taste

1-2 tsp sunflower oil 
6 large tortillas 

  1. Peel and dice the potatoes and boil them until cooked through in salted water
  2. Add the chorizo to a frying pan over a medium heat. Keep stirring to allow the oils from the chorizo to be released and then add the onions

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  1. Allow the onions to soften for a couple of minutes and then add the potatoes and pepper. Cook for a few minutes adding the oil if it begins to stick

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  1. After a couple of minutes, add the sweetcorn, chili powder, salt and pepper and stir through. Leave to cook stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes before turning out into a bowl

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  1. Place one large tortilla in a clean frying pan over a medium heat. Scatter the tortilla with some of the grated cheese before topping with a thin layer of the potato filling. Spread the filling to the edges of the tortilla before scattering with more grated cheese

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  1. Place another tortilla on top and press down to squidge the filling right to the edges. By now the bottom tortilla should be browned and slightly crispy. Carefully flip the tortilla over so the bottom becomes the top. How you choose to do this is up to you! I get a large spatula and flip but you can always tip it out onto a plate and then flip it and slip it back into the pan
  2. Once flipped, allow the tortilla to cook for 1-2 minutes until browned and crispy and you can see the cheese has melted inside
  3. Turn out onto a board and cut into eighths. Serve with lots of soured cream

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Skinny Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

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This tasty zesty cake is perfect as an afternoon treat, especially as it is a healthy version too!

I’d wanted to make a lemon and poppy seed cake for a while because I liked the look of the cake dotted with tiny black poppy seeds. I haven’t made as many cakes recently because I’m trying to eat more healthily and if I make cake, then I have no self control and I end up eating the cake.  I then found this recipe for a skinny lemon and poppy seed cake on Pinterest so no longer had any excuse not to give it a go! Even though it was a healthier cake, I managed to give most of it away to my family so I didn’t end up eating it all.

When I was making this cake, I was dubious. It looked thick as I was mixing the ingredients and then once it was baked it looked quite dense so I did fear the worst. I’m pleased to say it wasn’t dense or dry and was very tasty. My Mum liked it but she wasn’t massively keen on the poppy seeds as she said they got stuck in her teeth. I didn’t find this surprising as she doesn’t like jam where the fruit has the seeds in as she says the same happens then. So if you’re a little bit fussy like my Mum, this maybe won’t be your favourite cake but I do recommend giving it a go otherwise.

For the cake
1½ cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp fine salt
¾ cup caster sugar
1 lemon, zest finely grated
½ cup low fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup semi-skimmed milk 
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 tbsp poppy seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 2lb loaf tin
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl
  3. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, lemon, yogurt, milk, olive oil, vanilla, egg and egg whites and poppy seeds until combined
  4. Add the flour mix to the wet mix and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean

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  1. Let the cake cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely

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For the glaze
1½ cups icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp milk

  1. Once the cake is completely cooled, make the glaze by whisking together the icing sugar, lemon juice and milk. Pour the glaze all over the cake

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Curly’s Cooking’s Second Year Round-up

Another year of blogging has passed with lots more yummy recipes! I still consider myself to be a novice blogger so to have had over 25,000 views in the past year is pretty amazing to me! I have also had more people commenting on posts which is always nice to speak to people visiting my blog instead of just seeing them as a statistic.

As with last year, I have decided to write a post rounding up some of my favourite recipes from the past year.

Pasteis de Nata

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This isn’t just one of my favourite recipes from the last year, but one of my favourite recipes ever. I absolutely love these little tarts. The rich buttery pastry contains thick, vanilla infused deliciously creamy custard. I would have these for breakfast (or any meal) any day if I could!

Chicken Tinga Tostadas

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A very simple way of describing this recipe is the most delicious fajita filling I have ever had. Now don’t get me wrong, it is not simply a fajita filling, but it is everything I want from a Mexican chicken dish and more. Where the comparison to fajitas comes in is because we rarely serve this recipe as tostadas they aren’t as readily available as normal tortilla wraps (and you can get a lot more Chicken Tinga in a bigger wrap!).

Rainbow Layer Cake 

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This Rainbow Layer Cake is such a fun cake and not as complicated as it looks. If you buy the Wilton cake tins and use good gel colours then this cake is really quite simple but looks amazing.

 

These are just some of my favourite recipes, I’d love to hear if you have any faourites, or even if there are any recipes you would like to see on my blog.

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Skinny Chicken Fajita Pasta

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Deliciously creamy pasta perfect for people who like lots of flavour but are looking to keep dishes a bit healthier. This recipe is really tasty and works out at under 450 calories per portion.

I came across this recipe when someone shared it on Facebook. I ended up going to the blog and finding lots of tasty and healthy dishes so I really recommend you have a look at Skinny Taste for this recipe and loads more.

As with most recipes, I have made a few tweaks because I’m fussy! I was originally drawn to how easy and simple it sounded and that it was low in calories was a massive plus. I did initially think adding cream cheese was slightly odd but it adds a lovely creamy taste but without all of the calories. The original recipe includes mushrooms, onions and tomatoes but these weren’t for me. Feel free to add these or any other vegetables you would like. They also used Cajun seasoning, but I changed this to Fajita seasoning as it is something I always have in the house and really like the flavour.

I was so impressed by how tasty this recipe was and can see it becoming a regular meal in our house. I made the full amount as listed below which meant I had leftovers for lunch the next day. I’d gone and heated it up and was so excited by the recipe I was showing people I work with what it looked like. I’d been saying how much I was looking forward to it…and then I dropped it on the floor. I just stood there looking at my lovely lunch all over the floor. Gutted doesn’t even start to describe how I felt! What made it worse was that I had already knocked my cereal all over my desk in the morning. I’m not usually this clumsy, but I was having a really bad food day :(

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230g pasta – linguine or tagliatelle work well
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp Fajita seasoning (add more or less depending on your taste)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 peppers (any colours you like)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
250ml chicken stock
80ml semi-skimmed milk (use skimmed if you would prefer)
1 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp light cream cheese
¼ tsp salt
Pepper to taste

  1. Slice the peppers into thin strips. Whiz together the milk, cream cheese and flour in a small food processor and set aside

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  1. Cut the chicken in to very thin strips and season generously with the fajita mix

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  1. In a large pan of salted water, cook the pasta as per the packet’s instructions
  2. Heat a large frying pan with the cooking spray and cook the chicken on a medium high heat until the chicken is browned and cooked through (roughly 5 mins). Remove the chicken and set aside

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  1. Reduce the heat to medium and add the olive oil. Add the peppers and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper

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  1. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chicken stock and cream cheese mix. Stir through and allow to cook for a couple of minutes

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  1. Return the chicken to the pan and add the drained pasta. Stir thoroughly and cook for a minute or so before serving

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Beef & Guinness Stew

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A deliciously comforting and warming beef stew; perfect for a cold evening.

Like with a lot of recipes, I found this and then forgot about it. This one was from Delicious Magazine and it looked like the perfect warming winter stew so when I heard that my Nan was coming to stay, I thought this would be right up her street. My Nan is what I imagine most people’s Nan’s to be like – a fan of traditional British food. A curry is something alien and far too exotic for her, bless her.

So Mum and Dad were going to come over on Monday evening and bring Nan with them. She hadn’t seen our new house so it would be a chance to show her and to also cook her a nice meal. We didn’t have people over for dinner very often in our flat because we didn’t have a dining room table so it was a bit awkward to invite people over and ask them to eat with their plate on their lap! Since we’ve been in our house we have had lots of people over and it has to be one of my favourite things about the house. I didn’t realise how a dining table would make such a difference!

As it was a Monday they were coming, and a stew by nature isn’t the quickest of meals; I made it on the Sunday night and reheated it on the Monday. It tasted absolutely delicious, such deep and delicious flavours enhanced by the Guinness. It did become a little drier when I was reheating it so I added a bit more beef stock to create more gravy again, so if you reheat it you may need to do this too.

I’m sure if you have a slow cooker, this would work really well. I don’t have a slow cooker (I have nearly everything else it seems!) but my sister is threatening to buy me one so if she does I might become less clueless about them!

As you can see, there aren’t any photos of it actually plated up because keeping Rien waiting while I take photos of his dinner is one thing, but making my parent’s and Nan wait is another! Stew isn’t one of the most photogenic meals anyway- it’s all in the taste!

4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
150g streaky bacon, finely chopped
1.2kg shin of beef, cut into chunks 
3 tbsp plain flour
600ml Guinness
500ml beef stock
1 bouquet garni (I used thyme, rosemary, 3 bay leaves – the original recipe used parsley instead of rosemary)

  1. Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a large pan or casserole dish over a medium heat and add the onions. Fry for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the bacon and fry for a further 4-5 minutes making sure you stir occasionally. Remove the onions and bacon from the pan and set aside

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  1. Dust the beef in the seasoned flour. Heat the rest of the oil in the pan over a high heat and fry the beef in batches, for 3-4 minutes until browned all over

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  1. Reduce the heat to medium, return all of the beef, onions and bacon to the pan. Add the Guinness, stock and herbs as well as plenty of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil

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  1. Once it has come to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook partially covered for 2½ hours until the meat is tender. Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables

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Feta Stuffed Peppers

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Delicious, tasty and super easy these Feta Stuffed Peppers make an excellent light lunch or starter.

I found this recipe in my friend’s Weight Watchers recipe book which is always a good sign that it is going to be healthy! I really love the flavour of peppers when they are roasted as it brings out their sweetness so thought I would give this recipe a try. They did mention added chilli flakes, but I didn’t fancy this so I left them out but feel free to add them if you want a bit of a kick!

I didn’t have any fresh basil so I sprinkled on some frozen basil. I don’t seem to be very good at keeping plants alive so don’t tend to buy the little herb plants you see in the shop and I find that the fresh cut basil doesn’t last very long. So instead I bought a pot of frozen basil which is always there when I need it. Obviously fresh basil will be the most flavoursome and the frozen basil won’t be ideal for everything but it worked well in this recipe.

Each pepper (two halves) is less than 250 calories so it makes a perfect light lunch or you could use half a pepper as a starter.

2 red peppers, halved and de-seeded
16 cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
100g feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh basil
Spray oil
Pepper

  1. Spray a baking tray with oil. Put the four pepper halves on the tray and divide the ingredients between them

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  1. Spray again with oil and put in the oven for 40-45 minutes
  2. Serve with a green salad

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Chicken Tikka

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This is the most delicious home-made Chicken Tikka I have ever eaten!

I’m not very adventurous when it comes to Indian food as I don’t like coconut, coriander or too much spice. This means that whenever we go to an Indian restaurant I always and I mean always order a chicken tikka masala.

Quite a few years ago, my brother in law found this recipe online at www.makingcurry.co.uk – unfortunately the website doesn’t appear to exist anymore so I can’t link to it. He made this recipe for us and it was absolutely delicious. The recipe does also come with a sauce, which turns it into Chicken Tikka Masala which fantastic, but I haven’t included it at this stage as it is includes more cream etc which means it makes it higher in calories.

Some people may think this recipe is a little bit of a faff as it does take quite a while and has a few different steps. However most of the prep is putting everything in a bowl in the fridge and forgetting about it for a couple of days! That sounds perfect to me! I recommend using food prep gloves when it comes to threading the chicken onto the skewers as this doesn’t leave you with orange tinted hands, but this is completely up to you.

Up until now I have made this recipe using double cream which makes it decadent and deliciously creamy. We all know double cream is delicious, but definitely not healthy. So I decided to leave it out and use more of the natural yogurt in its place. I was pleasantly surprised, I didn’t miss the cream at all!

My favourite way of eating this is cold with simply lettuce, cucumber and a bit of mango chutney. It is also fantastic in a wrap with salad. Last time I made this, I split it into three large portions and it was just under 300 calories. So you definitely still can enjoy delicious Chicken Tikka but still be healthy!

700g skinned chicken breasts, cubed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
75g non-fat natural yogurt
100ml double cream (or 100ml of non-fat natural yogurt)
1 tbsp ginger puree
1 tbsp garlic puree
2 tbsp Tandoori Masala powder
½ tsp tumeric
½ garam masala
½ chilli powder
3 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
40g butter, melted

  1. Put the cubed chicken into a large bowl. Add all of the ingredients, except the butter and mix until combined. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2-60 hours – the longer the better!

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  1. Preheat the grill to high and line the grill pan with lightly oiled foil
  2. Brush 4 metal skewers with the melted butter and thread the chicken pieces leaving a small gap between each piece

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  1. Place on the grill pan set approximately 7.5cm away from the element and cook for 2-3 minutes. Take out and brush with more melted butter until the edges are charred

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  1. Turn the skewers over, brush with more butter and cook for 3-4 minutes
  2. Ease the chicken from the skewers. The chicken can be eaten hot or cold

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Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake

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Cinnamon swirl in cake form – this cake is an absolutely must for cinnamon lovers!

I found this recipe on one of my Pinterest jaunts. I absolutely love cinnamon so was drawn to this recipe by Shugary Sweets. Cinnamon brings the most delicious warmth and flavour to dishes in my opinion. I really don’t think you can beat a cinnamon swirl, but this cake comes a close second! It is a lot quicker and easier, but still has the same taste, just a slightly lighter texture as it’s a cake.

Hands down my favourite part of this cake is the glaze as it is exactly like you would have on a cinnamon swirl. This recipe makes a very generous portion of this glaze which as you are drizzling it on looks like you might have been excessive, but do not panic as you will be wishing you had more!

I didn’t use all of the filling when I made this cake because it looked like a lot of sugar. Use your own judgement and add as much as you like remembering that the sugar will melt into the cake.

It’s not the prettiest of cakes, but believe me you won’t have anyone complaining that it looks boring once they have tasted it!

For the cake
2 ½ cup plain flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ cup milk
Spray oil

For the filling
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Using the spray oil, grease and lightly flour the bundt tin and set aside. Preheat oven to 180°C

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  1. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in your mixer bowl. Add in the butter and beat until the mixture becomes crumbly
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and milk. Beat for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is smooth and fluffy
  3. In a separate bowl combine the brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling making sure the cinnamon is mixed through evenly . Set aside
  4. Pour half of the cake mix into the bundt tin and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the cake mix. Pour the rest of the cake mix on top
  5. Bake for 55-60 minutes until brown. Allow to cool in the tin slightly and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely

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For the glaze
1 cup icing sugar
2 – 4 tbsp milk
1 tsp cinnamon

  1. Once the cake has cooled completely, whisk together the icing sugar, milk and cinnamon. Add more milk to get a thick pouring consistency

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  1. Drizzle the glaze over the cake allowing it to drip down the sides

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Skinny Chicken Pasta Bake

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Deliciously creamy pasta bake which is skinny but you really wouldn’t guess it!

Well it’s January again (where did 2015 go?!) which means the vast majority of us will be trying to make healthier choices. I’m going to try and not use the word ‘diet’ because personally I am hoping to make a change to my lifestyle which is something more permanent than a diet.

This Skinny Chicken Pasta Bake is a perfect healthier option which means you don’t have to miss out on pasta. I found this recipe on Gimmie Some Oven which has an amazing, healthier, but still deliciously creamy sauce. I do love a good tuna pasta bake with a creamy white sauce, but when you actually work out how many calories are in the sauce it is quite alarming. This recipe lets you still enjoy a delicious pasta bake, but with fraction of the calories.

Instead of butter, this recipe uses olive oil which is a healthier fat to make the base of the sauce rather than the usual butter. It also uses Parmesan and low fat mozzarella which are far healthier choices than the more commonly used cheddar cheese. I decided to add the chorizo to give it extra flavour. Although you don’t need to use a huge amount, chorizo is quite calorific so this can easily be left out. An addition that I have also used is sweetcorn, just add a drained tin along with the other ingredients to the sauce.

This dish is also great for leftovers – perfect for lunch the next day. I sometimes find when you are trying to be healthy that lunch gets forgotten about and you end up having the same boring, low calorie lunch each day. I then end up feeling hungry for the rest of the day – maybe this is just me?! Something like this for lunch is great as it helps keep you full without being high in calories.

340g pasta (any shape you like)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 gloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup semi-skimmed milk (you can also use 1% milk)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 small chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
50g chorizo, diced
1 ball of low-fat mozzarella cheese

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package’s directions making sure it is al dente
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for a minute or so, stirring occasionally

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  1. Add the flour and stir to combine. Saute for another minute or so to cook the flour, again stirring occasionally

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  1. Gradually add the chicken stock whisking as you to go combine and create a smooth sauce. Once all the stock is added, whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. Allow the sauce to thicken for a minute or so and then stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper

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  1. Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally until the pasta is cooked
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C
  3. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce along with the cooked, shredded chicken and chorizo. Stir to make sure the pasta is evenly coated in the sauce

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  1. Pour half of the pasta into a large baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and then add the rest of the pasta. Finish by adding the rest of the mozzarella

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  1. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and starting to turn slightly golden

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Half Batch Vanilla Cupcakes (Bridesmaid Cupcakes)

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How else would I ask people to be my Bridesmaid than with cake?!

I haven’t been blogging as often in the past month due to moving house. We are now all moved in and mostly unpacked so I will hopefully have lots of yummy recipes heading your way soon!

We got the keys to our house on Friday 13th November – a good job neither of us are superstitious! As if the excitement of getting the keys to our first house wasn’t enough, Rien also asked me to marry him. Since then we have been mainly focusing on the house, but now we have sorted out everything that urgently needs doing, we can start wedding planning!

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After talking to Rien, I knew who I wanted to ask to be my Bridesmaids and knew that the only way I could do this was with cake. I decided to make a cupcake for each Bridesmaid and make a little flag asking them the question. I think asking someone to be your Bridesmaid is one of the most exciting part of the wedding preparations. Obviously getting engaged is incredibly exciting and I think asking someone to be your Bridesmaid is a way of sharing that excitement as (hopefully) they will be excited too.

The easiest person to ask was my sister as she knew I would ask her. I did surprise and slightly shock her though with her flag. I had a quick google to get the correct terminology, and as it turns out she is my ‘Matron of Honour’; much to her horror. She said it made her sound really old which isn’t what she is looking for at only 26! Her exact words were ‘Could you not have just called me a Bridesmaid?!’ She’s been married for nearly 4 years now so she will definitely be able to help out and give advice as she’s been there before.

The other people I asked were my friend from primary school, Georgie and Yasmin who I met in secondary school. I always knew I would ask these two. To say they were both chuffed would be an understatement!

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I didn’t want to make my usual batch of 12 cupcakes because I only needed a couple of cupcakes. I’ve used this recipe time and time again to make a smaller batch of 5 or 6 cupcakes. This recipe is really handy as you can’t just half my usual cupcake recipe as it has 3 eggs (how on earth would you half an egg?!).

I wanted to keep the cupcakes quite simple in decoration, so opted for slightly tinting the buttercream with a Wilton gel colour in Ivory. Although in the photos you might not be able to pick up the difference in colour from normal buttercream, you could in person. I used a Wilton 1M nozzle to create the rose design starting piping from the middle outwards.

For the cupcakes
75g caster sugar
75g butter or margarine
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
75g self raising flour 

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  3. Add the vanilla bean paste and eggs and mix
  4. Add the flour and mix until it is combined. Spoon into cupcake cases filling each 2/3 full
  5. Bake in the oven for 14 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean
  6. Let the cupcakes cool slightly before removing them and leaving cool completely on a wire rack before icing

For the buttercream
70g unsalted butter
140g icing sugar
1 tbsp milk 

  1. Beat softened butter and icing sugar together
  2. Gradually add the milk until it becomes smooth and quite thick – you may not need all of the milk
  3. Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag and pipe onto the cupcakes

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