Category Archives: baking

Blondies

Now I’m sure almost everyone knows what type of cake Brownies are, but I’ve always been intrigued as to Blondies. I had never seen one and I guessed that they were similar, but made from white chocolate. I decided to look up a recipe to try making some and found that I was on the right track, but not quite correct. I have adapted my recipe from this one which uses pecans that I found on the Waitrose website, as the boys are not keen on pecans.


Blondies

Blondies

Ingredients (makes 16)

150g butter
150g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
2 large eggs
few drops vanilla extract
250g plain flour
100g white chocolate

Method

Preheat fan oven to 160 degree C.
Line a 21cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Chop the white chocolate into small pieces
Melt the butter and both sugars in a pan over a low heat, stirring to combine.
Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Beat the eggs in a jug, then whisk into the butter and sugar mixture along with the vanilla.
Beat in the flour.
Stir chocolate into the mixture.
Spoon mixture into the tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until risen and golden on top.
Allow to cool in the tin.
Slice into 16 squares.
Serve and enjoy.

blondies

These were delicious. I’ll certainly be making them again. And I’d love to hear about when you were surprised by a recipe.

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Coconut Haystacks

Are you often like me, wondering what to do with leftover egg white? I usually cook it as a small pale omelette, then cut it into strips and toss them in a soup. But I know there must be so many more ideas out there. Well I suddenly remembered a recipe I used to make as a child with my mum, and decided to give it a go. This was Coconut Haystacks, so called because it looked the shape of the old-fashioned haystack, that you never see any more, now that hay is just bundled in bales.

coconut haystacks

Coconut Haystacks

Ingredients (makes about 10)

1 large egg white
50g golden granulated sugar
125g desiccated coconut

Method

Preheat fan oven to 160 degree C.
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
Whisk the egg white until it is peaky.
Whisk in the sugar.
Mix in the coconut.
Scoop some mixture with an egg cup, pressing in well.
Gently tap out onto the lined baking sheet.
Repeat until you have used all the mixture.
Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes until slightly golden.
Cool on a wire rack.
Serve and enjoy.

coconut haystacks

I’d love to hear your ideas for using up egg white.

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Chocolate Courgette Muffins

I am sure most of you have heard of carrot cake, so I wanted to see what other vegetables could be incorporated into baking. In particular I wanted to focus on a vegetable that neither of the boys would agree to eat, if they saw it on their plate. I decided on courgette and knew it needed to be well hidden, to get past the point of them actually eating. Therefore a type of chocolate cake was the answer.

Chocolate Courgette Muffins

Chocolate Courgette Muffins

Ingredients (makes 12)

100g soft brown sugar
50ml vegetable oil
160g self raising flour
40g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
1 courgette (approx 200g)
few drops of vanilla essence

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degree C.
Place muffin cases in muffin baking tray.
Grate the courgette.
Add sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla essence to mixing bowl and beat together.
Mix in the grated courgette.
Sieve in the flour.
Add cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
Fold in all these dry ingredients.
Spoon mixture into muffin cases.
Bake on middle shelf of preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until well risen and springy to the touch.
Cool on cooling rack.
Serve and enjoy.

Chocolate Courgette Muffins

So then I offered the “chocolate” muffins to the boys, which were initially eagerly accepted. And waited for the verdict on the experiment. Son1 asked if he could have a second muffin straightaway but son2 only ate half his muffin. Perhaps it needed more sugar to be disguised for son2. He could only say he didn’t like it, but not why.

I then told son1 there was a mystery ingredient and asked if he could guess it. He failed to guess and didn’t believe me when I told him it was courgette. I had to show him the photos to convince him. But I’m glad to say he continued to enjoy the muffins. And I thought they were very tasty too.

I’d love to hear your ideas for hiding secret vegetables in other dishes? I’m thinking chocolate might be a good cover for either beetroot or avocado too.

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An energy boost

I have just started a new job and there is lots to learn during the training period, which I find can be quite exhausting. Especially as I have to juggle it with family commitments.  Plus it is a shift role, so a mixture of early starts, late finishes plus night shifts again, which I’ve recently had a few months break from. So I was very pleased to be offered a free energy boosting goody pack from Pharmaton.

Energy boosting goodies

I received the following products.
75ml thisworks deep sleep pillow spray
Neom Energy Burst On the Go Mist
50g Nutriseed raw Maca powder
Boots £10 gift card (to purchase Pharmaton Vitality Capsules)

Pharmaton Vitality Capsules

So on my next shopping trip, I popped into Boots to buy a bottle of the Pharmaton Vitality Capsules. This contained 30 capsules, currently at an RRP of £9.49, for which the recommended dose is one tablet daily. I decided to take the full packet before telling you what I thought of them. The packet indicates that they are clinically proven against tiredness and lack of energy. Would I find that so?

The first 2 days didn’t go too well with me getting a bad headache overnight. The packet does warn that headaches may be a common side effect. But after that, things improved and although it is difficult to say with any certainty, I feel that overall I was probably more energised. During week 4, I did my first night shifts in several months, and I felt that my body adjusted back better afterwards.

Pharmaton Vitality Capsules

Pharmaton Vitality Capsules contain a special blend of vitamins and minerals, including the unique G115 ginseng extract. The idea is that they work with your body’s natural metabolism to relieve fatigue and restore vitality, and also help keep you stay mentally and physically alert. They can be taken every day for up to 12 weeks. (For the relief of temporary periods of fatigue. Always read the label).

And of course I tried out the other goodies too.

thisworks deep sleep pillow spray

The pillow spray is great. You just spray it on your pillow and the top end of your duvet. Then smell the delightful fragrance of lavender, vetivert and wild camomile as you drift off. Lavender is one of my favourite scents so this was perfect for me.

Neom Energy Burst On the Go Mist

The Neom mist has a lovely fragrance too and is 100% natural, but it comes in a very tiny bottle. I can’t see the size details on the packaging, but I’m guessing 5ml, so it won’t last me long. I’ve already used over half of it. Basically you spritz it above you or on your wrists, then supposedly breathe in through your nose for a count of 7 and out through your mouth for a count of 11. However I found that I couldn’t breathe for anything like this length, so I’m just doing it as slow as I can manage.

And finally the organic maca powder. I had never heard of maca, so I had to do some research. I found that the Incas have been cultivating it for 1000s of years in the high Peruvian Andes, boosting their energy at such a high altitude. More details on Wikipedia. The packet says to add 1-2 teaspoons to your smoothies, shakes, juices and healthy bakes. Well I decided to use it in my not quite so healthy chocolate cookie recipe.

Double choc chip cookies with maca

Double Choc Chip Cookies

Ingredients (makes about 13)

200g butter
200g plain flour
50g cocoa
1 heaped teasp maca powder
120g soft brown sugar
1 egg
few drops vanilla essence
1 tbsp milk
100g chocolate chips

Method

Preheat fan oven to 170 degree C.
Grease 2 baking trays.
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Beat in the egg.
Add the vanilla essence.
Sieve in the cocoa.
Add the maca powder.
Sieve in the flour.
Mix together.
Mix in the chocolate chips.
Mix in milk if mixture is too stiff.
Spoon balls of mixture onto the baking trays.
Bake in pre-heated oven for about 12 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
Serve and enjoy.

Double choc chip cookies with maca

Delicious. Everyone gave these the thumbs up.


And here are some more simple tips to help you make the most of your day and get your energy levels back.

  1. Stay Hydrated

It seems obvious but make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. According to the Natural Hydration Council, dehydration can reduce the ability to concentrate and impact cognitive and physical performance. NHS choices recommend that you drink at least 1.2 litres of fluid a day which is roughly 6-8 glasses of water. The best way to remind yourself is to keep a glass or bottle on your desk and set yourself a target amount to drink by the end of the day.

  1. Eat right

Make sure that you eat the right foods at the right time. It is tempting to reach for high fat, high sugar products when you are tired but these will leave your energy levels crashing, making you feel irritable and still hungry. Keep a pot of nuts such as almonds or cashews at your desk for when you need an energy boost.

  1. Get a good sleep

According to the national Sleep Council, your bedroom should not be an extension of the house. So don’t use the bedroom to eat, watch TV, work or talk in – the bedroom should be used for sleeping. Plan a consistent sleeping schedule by trying to get the same amount of sleep every night and at similar times. Move all screens out of the bedroom and try to avoid staring a bright screen an hour before bed, as the light keeps your brain awake leaving you struggling to drift off.

  1. Move it

If you feel your concentration failing, don’t reach for another coffee or sugary snack – get moving! Even low intensity exercise like a brisk walk around the block at lunch can help reduce the feeling of fatigue.

I’d be interested to hear your top energy boosting tips.

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Family Fever

Disclosure. This post includes a review of products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Marble Cake

When one of my regular readers recently let me know that she was trying out my chocolate cake recipe, it got me thinking that it was time to try out something new too. And since I sometimes end up buying a marble cake at Lidl, I decided that I would try to bake one, something I’ve never tried before.

Marble Cake

Marble Cake

Ingredients

175g self raising flour
175g butter
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp cocoa
vanilla essence
3 tbsp milk

Method

Preheat fan oven to 160 degree C.
Line a loaf tin.
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Beat in the eggs.
Add the vanilla essence.
Sieve and mix in the flour and baking powder.
Divide mixture between 2 bowls.
Mix cocoa into one bowl.
Mix milk into same bowl.
Spoon alternate mixtures into the tin.
Bake in pre-heated oven for about 50 – 60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
Cut into slices.
Serve and enjoy.

Marble Cake

It looked and tasted delicious. I love the swirly way it looks. No wonder it is named marble cake. Just like the pattern of a glass marble.

Marble Cake

Marble Cake

I’d love to hear what cakes you enjoy baking?

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Oreo marshmallow fingers

Last month I took part in the Britmums Oreo Cookie Challenge and was delighted to be one of the winners. Taking part inspired me to try to come up with an Oreo recipe, especially aimed at son2 who is huge Oreo fan.

Oreo marshmallow fingers

Oreo marshmallow fingers

Ingredients (makes about 7)

25g butter
1 packet of Original Oreos
100g mini marshmallows

Method

Tip the Oreos into a large freezer bag.
Crush the Oreos with a rolling pin.
Gently melt the butter in a large pan.
Add the marshmallows and stir until melted.
Stir in the crushed Oreos.
Spoon the mixture into a loaf mould, pressing well into the corners.
Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Remove from mould and cut into fingers.
Serve and enjoy.

Oreo marshmallow fingers

Son2 was very pleased with these, but with hindsight, it would have been better to bake a double batch, as they were all gone too quickly.

I’d love to hear your ideas for Oreo recipes.

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When is a Gingerbread Man, not a Gingerbread Man?

When it is a Reindeer!

Now I can’t take the credit for this idea as I’ve seen multiple images on the internet of a gingerbread man cutter being used upside down to create reindeer biscuits. I thought this was a great idea that my boys would love, so I decided to give it a try. I made my standard gingerbread recipe and then decorated them all as Rudolph.

Reindeer gingerbread biscuits

Reindeer Gingerbread Biscuits

Ingredients (makes about 30 biscuits)

350g plain flour
1 teasp bicarbonate of soda
2 teasp ginger
1/2 teasp cinnamon
125g butter
100g soft brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup

Black writing icing
Few drops of red food colouring
50g ready to roll white icing

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 deg C.
Grease and line baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring.
Add the dry ingredients.
Mix to form a stiff dough.
Roll a ball of dough to 5mm thickness, then use gingerbread man cutter to cut out biscuits.
Place on the lined baking sheets.
Continue to cut out until all dough used. (Number will vary according to size of your cutter).
Bake the biscuits in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Leave to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then move to a wire rack.
Once cool, they can be decorated.
Use the writing icing to give each reindeer biscuit 2 eyes.
Place ready to roll icing in a small bowl.
Use your hands to squeeze it to make malleable.
Add enough food colouring to mix to a red ball.
Form into small balls, approx 1cm wide.
Then press an icing ball onto each reindeer for the nose.
Serve and enjoy.

Reindeer gingerbread men

Son2 said that only one should have had a red nose and that I should have made Dasher, Prancer, Dancer, Cupid, Comet, Donner, Vixen and Blitzen too. However we all agreed they were a tasty seasonal Christmas treat.

I’d love to hear what Christmas goodies you enjoy baking or eating?

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Lemon Bars

My goto recipe for lemons when baking is always a lemon drizzle cake. So I decided it was time to try something different.

lemon bars

Lemon Bars

Ingredients (makes 12)

125g plain flour
100g butter
50g icing sugar
2 eggs
1 lemon
200g granulated sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
icing sugar to decorate

Method

Preheat fan oven to 170 degree C.
Grease a 20cm square baking tin.
Mix the 125g flour, butter and icing sugar together, to form a dough.
Press dough into tin and bake for about 20 minutes until starting to turn golden.
Meanwhile grate the zest of the lemon and squeeze the juice.
Tip zest and juice into a mixing bowl.
Add eggs, granulated sugar and 2 tbsp flour.
Beat together.
Pour over hot base and return to oven for about 25 minutes until set and golden.
Cool on a wire rack.
Dust the top with icing sugar.
Cut into slices.
Serve and enjoy.

lemon bars

lemon bars

Delicious. Now to find a few more tasty lemon recipes. I’d love to hear what you bake using lemon?

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Bedford Biscuits

This is a recipe that I remember my mum baking every week. During school holidays, I would love to help her make these. She used to make them very small and very thin, so I’ve adapted the recipe to make bigger thicker biscuits.

Bedford Biscuits

Bedford Biscuits

Ingredients (makes about 15)

75g butter
75g granulated sugar
75g) plain flour
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp golden syrup
175g oats

Method

Preheat fan oven to 170 degree C.
Grease 2 baking sheets.
Cream together butter and sugar.
Mix in the flour.
Dissolve bicarbonate of soda in the hot water.
Add syrup, vanilla essence and soda.
Mix in the oats.
Roll out the mixture to 1/2 cm thickness.
Cut into circles.
Place on greased baking sheets and bake in preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes until golden.
Serve and enjoy.

Bedford Biscuits

Very tasty but I have no idea how these biscuits got there name. I assume they originated in Bedford. If anyone knows, then please do tell me.

Do you have a recipe handed down through the generations?

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Streusel topped fruity slices

If you are wondering what streusel is, it is fairly similar to the topping on a crumble. I certainly managed to confuse the boys with this, as they kept saying strudel, which is a pastry dish. Something else I’ve never tried making yet. Must give that a try sometime soon.

Streusel

Streusel topped fruity slices

Ingredients (makes 16)

200g self raising flour
120g soft brown sugar
140g butter
50g ground almonds
100g dried strawberries
100g dried apple
50g sultanas
30g oats

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 degree C.
Line a 20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Rub the butter into the flour.
Stir in the sugar and ground almonds.
Reserve 150g of this mixture for later to make the topping.
Add the egg to the rest and mix to a dough.
Place the dough in the tin and flatten.
Chop the strawberries and apples.
Mix all the fruit together in a bowl.
Spread the fruit over the dough base.
Mix the oats into the reserved mixture.
Sprinkle over the fruit.
Cover the tin with foil.
Bake on middle oven shelf for about 30 minutes until golden.
Allow to cool.
Cut into slices.
Serve and enjoy.

Streusel

You could easily vary the fruits used in the filling. So I’d love to hear if you have some alternative suggestions.

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