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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Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Deliciously moist pumpkin cake with silky smooth cream cheese frosting; the perfect Autumnal cake.

I pinned this recipe from Damn Delicious quite a few months ago knowing that this was definitely a cake I would like to make in Autumn. For the last few years, I have made my Pumpkin Cake Bars around Thanksgiving as they are Rien’s favourite thing I have ever baked. The bars are absolutely delicious, but I thought this Bundt cake would look better for an event like Thanksgiving – of if like me that’s just an excuse to bake using pumpkin!

The original cake recipe had a pumpkin flavoured glaze, but I wasn’t willing to replace the delicious cream cheese frosting that I associate with pumpkin cake. Wherever possible, I prefer to not use recipes with cup measurements as I find it far easier and more accurate (for me anyway) using metric measurements. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to try and work out the metric measurements for this recipe so it is still in cups.

This was the last cake I baked in my old flat. I’d packed all of my baking equipment apart from what was needed for this recipe. I was desperate to make this cake as I wasn’t sure when I would next be able to bake. It was only once I had made the cake that I realised that I had also packed the lights I usually use when photographing food when there isn’t enough daylight. That is the reason why the photographs are not as I would have liked them. Please do not let that put you off trying this recipe though as it really is tasty! This recipe was meant to have been ready for you weeks ago, but I have been a bit busy recently.

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This isn’t the prettiest or most refined cake, but that wasn’t what I was going for. I wanted a cake piled with cream cheese frosting looking rustic and inviting. This cake wasn’t about decoration or being fancy. Obviously you can spruce it up if you would like.

I took most of the cake into work as if it had stayed at home, we would have eaten far too much of it! Everyone absolutely loved it – they were the most enthusiastic I have ever heard them. That does say a lot as they are usually very enthusiastic when it comes to cake! It was also still fresh and moist on the fifth day which is always a plus. It is such a big cake that with modest slices it could serve around 18; but sometimes modesty is overrated…

For the cake
3 cups of plain flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat he oven to 180°C and spray a 12 cup bundt tin with cooking spray
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy and then add the eggs one at a time
  3. Add the pumpkin puree, yogurt and vanilla extract and mix until combined
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Then gradually add the flour mix to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined
  5. Pour the mix into the bundt tin and smooth until even. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean

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  1. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and allowing to cool completely

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For the frosting:
75g unsalted butter
450g icing sugar
185g full fat cream cheese

  1. Make sure the butter is at room temperature. Beat it until it is softened
  2. Add the icing sugar and beat until combined before adding the cream cheese. Mix until combined – I used a MagiMix for this and it turned out amazingly smooth

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  1. Spread generously over the cake allowing it to fall down the sides

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Chicken Tinga Tostadas

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Delicious chicken in a subtly spiced sauce on crisp corn tostadas, served with soured cream, lettuce and cheese – I don’t think you can get much better in my opinion!

If you follow my blog, you’ll know a couple of things about me; I am going through a Mexican food phase and fajitas are a staple in my house. My boyfriend, Rien, is obsessed with fajitas and would eat them everyday if he could. I am unashamed to say that I use a spice mix to make it a very quick and easy dinner for during the week.

I wasn’t holding out high hopes for his opinion of these Chicken Tinga Tostadas because of how much he loves the usual fajitas I make and I wasn’t sure if anything could compete with them. Once I’d made these tostadas, I was extremely happy with them as they tasted even better than I thought they would. I sat there waiting for Rien’s verdict and finally he said he thought they were delicious and even better than his beloved fajitas! Now to anyone else, this may not sound like much of a compliment; he thought the Chicken Tinga Tostadas were better than using a fajitas spice mix, wouldn’t that be obvious? Well no, not with Rien. He has a lot of positives, but he has quite simple tastes when it comes to food, bless him. He hadn’t heard of Camembert before we started dating and I’m pretty sure he hadn’t heard of a fig, let alone tried one. I am by no means adventurous with food as I am so fussy, but I have managed to introduce him to quite a few new foods; even if his favourite meal is still chicken and chips!

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I got this recipe from ‘Mexican The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arrote’ which is crammed with hundreds of authentic Mexican recipes. I’d heard of Chicken Tinga before and thought it sounded tasty so wanted to try this recipe. On a trip to Borough Market I went to the Cool Chile Company stall and stocked up on dried chillies and tostadas. I love this stall and stock up each time I go to Borough Market – or recently when Rien was in London for work, he picked me up some tostadas on the way home (I told you he had many positives!)

I’m sure you can get the ingredients in other places, for example I’ve seen dried chillies in supermarkets now. I am still yet to see tostadas in supermarkets, but they do sell mini tortillas. Although they tend to be made from wheat instead of corn, you could try toasting them slightly. They wouldn’t get as crisp as tostadas do and would be more like tacos, but they would still be as delicious so don’t let not being able to find tostadas put you off!

The original recipe used a whole chicken, but that would make an awful lot of Chicken Tinga, so instead I like to use two chicken breasts. This is enough for two people as a dinner and could be enough for 4-6 people as a starter. These tostadas do obviously take longer than cheats fajitas, but they taste amazing – definitely worth spending the extra time and effort. This is one of my favourite dishes at the moment.

I love all of the different flavours in this recipe without it being too hot. I used to think that if a recipe had chillies in it, then it would be really hot. Although some can obviously pack a punch, the chillies in this recipe add a great smoky flavour with only a slight warmth. Feel free to add a little bit more of the chillies in adobo sauce if you do want it a little spicier, or go easy with it if you prefer things really mild.

Make sure you read the whole recipe and make sure you have the ingredients before you start.

For the chicken
½ onion

2 chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 tsp sea salt

  1. Fill a medium pan with water and add the chicken, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and salt to the pan

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  1. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and take the chicken out of the pan. Set the chicken aside and make sure you keep the cooking liquid

For the tinga sauce
3 large tomatoes

1 dried chipotle chiles, soaked and drained
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp diced chorizo
1 onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs 
1 tbsp chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dried oregano
½ tsp sea salt
Pack of tostadas

  1. While you are waiting for the chicken to cool, make the tinga sauce. Preheat the oven to 200ºC and roast the tomatoes for 30 minutes
  2. Put the dried chili into a mug and cover completely with boiling water and allow to soak for 15 minutes

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  1. Once roasted and cooked, add the tomatoes, dried chili and garlic into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Strain the mixture into a bowl, discarding any skin and seeds, and set aside

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  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the chorizo, cooking over a low heat for five minutes

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  1. Add the onion and continue to cook for another 8 minutes until lightly browned
  2. Shred the chicken
  3. Add the garlic, tomato and chipotle mixture, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, salt and chipotles in adobo to the pan. Stir occasionally until the sauce has thickened
  4. Add the shredded chicken and approximately 150ml of the reserved poaching liquid and sugar. Cook for another 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the chicken is warmed through

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To finish
Tostadas
Soured cream
Shredded lettuce
Feta cheese (or cheddar if that’s all you have)

  1. Heat the tostadas for a couple of minutes on each side in a pan or in the oven. Spread each tostada with soured cream and then top with the chicken mixture. To finish, add shredded lettuce and crumble with feta

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Gin Drizzle Cake

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Think lemon drizzle cake, but with added gin. Yes, it is as good as it sounds, and yes this cake is just for adults!

There have been a few articles in the news recently that gin actually has health benefits such as helps reduce wrinkles, fight cancer and is low in calories so is good for your waistline. I came across the recipe for this cake and although I never need an excuse for a little gin, I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

This recipe is slightly different to usual cake recipes because it doesn’t have set weights for each ingredient. The weight of the eggs dictates the weight of the sugar, butter and flour so each cake will be slightly different. As it could be slightly different each time it is important to check the cake with a cocktail stick to make sure it is baked.

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I’ve made this cake a couple of times now; once for a family BBQ and another time when my Uni friends came to stay. Everyone has enjoyed it so far, although my Uni friends did find it a little strong at first. I think this was partly due to them wanting to eat it as soon as I had poured the drizzle on. When they had some more the following day, the gin had had time to seep into the cake so the flavour wasn’t as stong.

The recipe is from Truly Madly Kids. In the original recipe, they keep the cake in the tin when pouring the drizzle on. This would help keep all of the drizzle in the cake and not dripping off, but I was worried this would make the cake too saturated. Take your pick at which method you would like to try.

For the cake
4 medium eggs – weigh with their shells on
Caster sugar – the same weight as the eggs
butter – the same weight as the eggs
Self raising flour – the same weight as the eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
90ml gin

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a 1kg loaf tin
  2. Cream together the sugar and the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat on a high speed
  3. Add the flour and lemon zest and mix again until smooth. Add the gin and lemon juice and mix again

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  1. Pour the mix into the loaf tin and bake until a skewer comes out clean – test it after about 35-40 minutes. Mine took roughly 50 minutes

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  1. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes before removing it from the tin and leaving it to cool completely on a wire rack

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For the drizzle
110ml gin
150g granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Mix the gin, lemon juice together, I do this in a jug so it is easier to pour over the cake

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  1. Make holes in the cake with a skewer. Keeping the cake on the wire rack, but a baking try underneath the rack to catch any drizzle that doesn’t soak into the cake

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  1. Slowly pour the drizzle mixture over the cake

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The second time I made this cake, the sugar hardened on top a bit more so was more visible which I thought looked quite nice. Not quite sure why it did this time but not the first time!

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Gym Bunny Mummy
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Fig, Prosciutto and Rocket Salad

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I am obsessed with figs. Not only are they delicious, they are really pretty too. At this time of year they seem to be everywhere which is great so I can enjoy them whilst they are in season.

Most people may associate figs with sweet dishes, like my Honey, Fig and Mascarpone Cupcakes. However figs go really well as part of a savoury dish and add a great sweetness. This salad makes a lovely starter or light lunch and is really healthy.

This salad is really simple and quick to whip up. I first made this just for myself thinking it wouldn’t be Rien’s kind of thing. He had a little bit to give it a try and really liked it so ended up eating half of it! In the week since I made it, he has kept asking when I am going to make it again because he loved it.

I decided to use Prosciutto, but feel free to use Parma or Serano ham instead. – just use whichever cured ham you fancy. With the dressing, you can either use balsamic vinegar or balsamic vinegar glaze. This recipe is definitely not set in stone, the quantities below are just a guide so if you want more of one ingredient, go for it.

Serves 2 
1 bag of rocket 
3 – 4 figs 
4 slices of Prosciutto
20g Parmesan
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar or balsamic vinegar glaze  

  1. Rinse the rocket if it hasn’t already been washed and scatter over your serving plate or bowl
  2. Cut the figs into quarters or sixths depending on how big they are and add them to the rocket
  3. Drape slices of Prosciutto over the plate
  4. Grate the Parmesan over the salad with a vegetable peeler so you get curls of cheese
  5. Drizzle the salad with balsamic vinegar

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Moist cake with smooth cream cheese frosting, a true British Classic cake.

Carrot cake is hands down the most popular type of cake that I make. I’ve been making carrot cupcakes for ages now, but sometimes you just want a lovely big cake. I have made some very small changes to the recipe to adapt it to make a cake instead of cupcakes. This mix is perfect for making a two or three layer cake.

It is no secret that I really don’t like making carrot cake. The only reason for this is I really don’t like grating carrots (yes I realise that sounds lazy). However, as I am still borrowing (holding hostage) my Mum’s MagiMix, I used the grater attachment. Oh my goodness, I need to get myself a MagiMix! It made grating the carrots an absolute breeze, but not only that the carrot was quite a coarse grate which added a lovely texture to the cake. I should mention that I’m not being asked to rave about MagiMix’s in my last few blog posts, I am just genuinely excited by how great they are.

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I had big plans of how I was going to pipe little carrots onto this cake, but as you can see that never happened. As with most of my weekends I start off wanting to do loads of things and then realise weekends aren’t as long as I wish they were. So I decided to go with a simple decoration of bronze crunch around the edges.

I can’t believe GBBO is finished! At the beginning, I didn’t think I was going to be able to bake along until the end as I thought I would have either moved house or had everything packed ready to move. I am very pleased that Nadiya won and along with half of the UK, I teared up a little bit!

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For the cake:
150g light brown sugar
150g dark brown sugar
3 free range medium eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp (heaped) cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
300g grated carrot

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line two or three 8 inch cake tins
  2. Mix together the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Before adding the sugar to the rest of the ingredients, try to break up any large lumps in the sugar
  3. In another bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together
  4. Gradually add the wet mix to the dry mix stirring as you go
  5. Add the carrots and keep stirring until thoroughly mixed

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  1. Split the mix between the prepared cake tins and smooth. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes if you are using two tins or 20- – 25 minutes. Use a cocktail stick to test the cake, it is cooked when the stick comes out clean

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  1. Allow to cool slightly in the tins before turning out and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting

For the frosting:
75g unsalted butter
450g icing sugar
185g full fat cream cheese

  1. Make sure the butter is at room temperature. Beat it until it is softened

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  1. Add the icing sugar and beat until combined before adding the cream cheese. Mix until combined

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  1. Place one of the cakes upside down on your serving plate and put half of the frosting if you’ve made a two layer cake or one third if you’ve made three layers on top and spread out evenly

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  1. For the top layer, place it on top the right way up and smooth the remaining frosting

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Ravioli Lasagne

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Rich bolognese packed with layers of tasty ravioli and melted cheese. Such a deliciously comforting dish with approximately 500 calories per portion makes it a healthier option without compromising on the taste.

This recipe was heavily influenced by a recipe my Mum made a few times when I was growing up. All I could remember was the recipe used ravioli instead of lasagne and had a bolognese style sauce. I’m pretty sure it had some form of white sauce as you would usually expect from a lasagne too but I can’t be sure. Instead of asking my Mum to hunt around for the recipe, I thought I would take elements of it and make my version of it. This also meant I could try and keep an eye on the calories in it too!

We have become a little bit too relaxed with healthy eating in my house recently so we decided enough was enough and are back on track trying to watch what we eat a bit more. This doesn’t mean I won’t have treats, but where I can I’ll try and make things a bit healthier.

This recipe is an example of this as I have used lean beef mince – although it won’t make a massive difference, every little helps! I’ve also used parmesan cheese and half – fat mozzarella. With parmesan, a small amount goes quite a long way and although the mozarella like all low-fat cheese options may not melt as seductively as normal cheese, it still tastes great and doesn’t make you feel as guilty! Obviously you do not need to use the low fat options, but in my opinion there really is no reason not to.

As well as making a very tasty dinner, we had plenty of leftovers for lunches which was equally as tasty. What this recipe lacks in prettiness, it definitely makes up for in flavour!

500g lean mince beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp mustard powder
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp rosemary, chopped
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tin of plum tomatoes
2 Oxo beef cubes
Spray oil
400g ravioli – I used beef and wine ravioli
225g half fat mozzarella
40g parmesan

  1. Put a pan on a medium heat and spray with oil. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until the onion starts to soften and go translucent, but not brown

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  1. Add the mince and using a wooden spoon, break the mince up into small pieces so you don’t get big lumps. Stir until all the meat is browned
  2. Once browned, add the celery and carrot. Add the tomato puree and stir before adding the herbs, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, salt and pepper

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  1. Add the tinned tomatoes and then fill the empty tin with water from a recently boiled kettle – be careful as the tin will be hot, add it to the pan and stir
  2. Crumble in the Oxo cubes and let is simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can leave it on a low heat to blip away for a few hours, just make sure you add some more water if it starts looking dry

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  1. The liquid should have reduced so that it coats the meat but isn’t too wet – you don’t want too much liquid as it will be too wet when you bake it

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  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC while you assemble the lasagne
  2. Using a large oven proof dish, layer the base with half of the ravioli and then cover with half of the meat mixture

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  1. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella and parmesan over the meat and pasta and then repeat using up the rest of the ingredients

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  1. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted

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  1. Serve with a side salad or whatever else you fancy

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