Tag Archives: baking

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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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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Welsh Cakes

Time to share one of my favourite teatime treats.

Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakes

Ingredients (makes 15)

225g self raising flour
1/2 teasp mixed spice
85g granulated sugar
100g margarine
50g currants
1 large egg
lard (for frying)
extra sugar

Method

Add mixed spice and sugar to a large mixing bowl.
Rub in the margarine.
Sieve in the flour.
Mix in the egg.
Add the currants.
Draw the mixture into 2 balls.
Flatten to about 5mm on a floured board.
Cut out fluted rounds.
Meanwhile melt knob of lard in frying pan.
Add 5 rounds to the pan.
Cook for about 3 minutes until golden brown on underneath.
Turn and cook for about a further 3 minutes.
Place a layer of kitchen roll on a cooling rack.
Turn out the welsh cakes onto the cooling rack.
Dust with extra sugar.
Turn and dust on the reverse.
Melt additional lard in the frying pan if required and repeat twice until all welsh cakes are cooked.
Allow to cool.
Serve and enjoy.

Welsh Cakes

I’d love to hear your favourite baking treats?

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Butternut Squash Muffins with Yoghurt Icing

This post is long overdue. I promised to share this recipe ages ago. These cakes are both very tasty and healthy, being full of butternut squash and iced with yoghurt. Also a great way of getting hidden veggies into kids. A very tasty bake for afternoon tea.

And with Halloween just round the corner, you could easily make them with pumpkin instead of butternut squash. And jazz them up with some spooky Halloween designs like spiders webs and witches hats on the icing.

Butternut Squash Muffins

Butternut Squash Muffins

Ingredients (makes 12)

200g plain flour
200g grated butternut squash
200g caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
few drops vanilla essence
100ml milk
50ml sunflower oil
1 large egg
100ml boiling water

Method

Preheat fan oven to 160 degree C.
Boil a kettle of water.
Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add the milk, vanilla essence, oil and boiling water.
Mix together either by hand or with an electric mixer.
Beat the egg and whisk in.
Fold the butternut squash into the mixture.
Fill the cases to about 3/4 full.
Bake for about 20 mins in centre of oven until golden brown.
Allow to cool before icing.

Vanilla Yoghurt Icing

Ingredients

500g pot of vanilla yoghurt

Method

Pour the yogurt into a clean draw-string cloth bag.
(If you don’t have a bag, you may use a tea towel and string).
Tie the bag to the handle of an open drawer.
Put a bowl underneath.
Strain it for at least 3 hours until the yoghurt is thick, but preferably overnight.
Remove from bag into a basin.
Ice the muffins.
Serve and enjoy.

If you don’t have time to strain yoghurt you may alternatively make cream cheese icing.

butternut squash muffins

Disclosure.  This post is my entry to the Great Denby Cake Off Blogging Competition.
And I’m also entering this post to a Halloween baking competition hosted by Cakeyboi in association with Kleeneze.

Sugar and Crumbs review and giveaway – part 3 Coffee Cake

This is my third post in a series of posts reviewing Sugar and Crumbs products which I received free to review. Sugar and Crumbs are an online store who sell a range of natural flavoured icing sugar and cocoa powder. I received the following products in a handy reusable shopping bag along with a fridge magnet.
Salted Caramel Icing Sugar
Coffee Icing Sugar
Key Lime Icing Sugar
Chocolate Lime Cocoa Powder

With just the Coffee Icing Sugar left to review I decided to make a Coffee Cake. I did contemplate making a more traditional Coffee and Walnut cake, but my boys aren’t keen on nuts. But one thing to point out is that none of the Sugar and Crumbs products are suitable for anyone with nut allergies, due to the manufacturing process.

Previously I posted a review of Sugar and Crumbs Salted Caramel Icing with my Carrot Muffins recipe. I followed this up by baking a Chocolate Lime Cake to review  the Chocolate Lime Cocoa Powder and the Key Lime Icing Sugar.

Coffee Cake

Ingredients

225g margarine
225g caster sugar
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
4 level tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degree C / 160 fan / Gas mark 4.
Grease and line a pair of 20cm diameter cake tins.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar.
Beat in the eggs.
Fold in the flour and baking powder.
Dissolve the coffee and stir in well until thoroughly blended.
Spoon into the tins.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.
Allow to cool completely before icing.

Coffee Buttercream Icing

Ingredients

125g Sugar and Crumbs coffee icing sugar
63g butter

Method

Ensure the butter is softened first.
Beat the butter and icing sugar together, either by hand or using an electric mixer.
Spread half the icing on bottom layer of cake.
Sandwich the top layer on.
Spread remaining icing on top of the cake.
Serve and enjoy.

Coffee cake has always been one of my favourites and this one lived up to my expectations. Absolutely delicious and all the family agreed too.

The icing sugar costs £2.99 for 250g or £4.99 for 500g so it is significantly more expensive than standard icing sugar at the supermarket, which is currently about £1 for 500g. I leave it to you the reader to decide if these products are right for you? For me personally, I would buy them to use when baking a special treat.

So do take a look at the Sugar and Crumbs website to see all their other flavours of icing sugar and cocoa powder. They have an interesting range, which are all naturally flavoured. Which is your favourite? They sell cake toppers, sugarpaste and sprinkles too and have some bundle special offers. They have recently introduced a Hot Cross Bunny flavour and are also planning to launch some more new flavours after Easter.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition courtesy of Sugar And Crumbs to giveaway £10 worth of their products of the winner’s choice to one lucky person.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you can’t see the Rafflecopter box above, either click the Rafflecopter link or you may alternatively enter via my Facebook page.

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

Link up your recipe of the week

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Sugar and Crumbs review – part 2 Chocolate Lime Cake

This is my second post in a series of posts reviewing Sugar and Crumbs products which I received free to review. Sugar and Crumbs are an online store who sell a range of natural flavoured icing sugar and cocoa powder. I received the following products in a handy reusable shopping bag along with a fridge magnet.
Salted Caramel Icing Sugar
Coffee Icing Sugar
Key Lime Icing Sugar
Chocolate Lime Cocoa Powder

Earlier this month, I posted a review of Sugar and Crumbs Salted Caramel Icing with my Carrot Muffins recipe. This time I decided to use two of the products in one recipe, namely the Chocolate Lime Cocoa Powder and the Key Lime Icing Sugar to bake a Chocolate Lime Cake. Lime is not a flavour I have ever used in cooking previously, lemon yes but lime no.

A slice of chocolate lime cake

A slice of chocolate lime cake

Chocolate Lime Cake

Ingredients

175g margarine
175g soft dark brown sugar
135g self raising flour
4 tbsp Sugar and Crumbs chocolate lime cocoa powder
3 eggs
2 tbsp milk

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degree C / 180 fan / Gas mark 6.
Grease and line a 20cm diameter deep cake tin.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar.
Beat in the eggs.
Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.
Stir in sufficient milk to give a dropping consistency.
Spoon into the tin.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack.
Allow to cool completely before icing.

Key Lime Buttercream Icing

Ingredients

125g Sugar and Crumbs key lime icing sugar
63g butter
few drops of green food colouring

Method

Ensure the butter is softened first.
Beat the butter and icing sugar together, either by hand or using an electric mixer.
Add the food colouring and mix through.
Spread on top of the cake.
Serve and enjoy.

The Sugar and Crumbs icing sugars do not contain any colouring, so I decided to add a few drops of green food colouring to my icing in order to give a visual clue as to the flavour of the cake.

I liked the lime aroma, but didn’t particularly enjoy the taste. I was rather disappointed as I absolutely loved the flavour of the salted caramel icing used in my previous recipe, so I had very high expectations. But I don’t remember ever eating a lime cake previously, although I love baking and eating lemon drizzle cake. I now think lime is very much an acquired taste.  Even the kids weren’t particularly sold on this flavour, so my husband ended up eating most of the cake. Now chocolate cake is usually his favourite flavour of cake and normally it doesn’t last long in the tin. But this one certainly hung around for a bit.

The products come in convenient resealable pouches. I’ve still got enough cocoa for 3 more recipes and icing for one more, so I’ll have to put my thinking cap on to see if I can come up with something I do like.

The cocoa costs £2.99 for 125g, £4.99 for 250g or £8.99 for 500g which is more expensive than standard cocoa at the supermarket but only slightly more than top of the range. The icing sugar costs £2.99 for 250g or £4.99 for 500g so it is significantly more expensive than standard icing sugar at the supermarket, which is currently about £1 for 500g. But you have saved yourself having to buy and squeeze fresh limes. I leave it to you the reader to decide if these products are right for you? For me personally, I would buy them to use when baking a special treat, but would choose a different flavour, not lime.

So do take a look at the Sugar and Crumbs website to see all their other flavours of icing sugar and cocoa powder. They have an interesting range, which are all naturally flavoured. Which is your favourite? They sell cake toppers, sugarpaste and sprinkles too and have some bundle special offers.

And finally don’t forget to watch out for my final post in this series, which will also incorporate a giveaway. Post 3 will be published in about 2 weeks time.

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

Link up your recipe of the week

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Sugar and Crumbs review – part 1 Carrot Muffins

I received a selection of Sugar and Crumbs products free to review. Sugar and Crumbs are an online store who sell a range of natural flavoured icing sugar and cocoa powder. I received the following products in a handy reusable shopping bag along with a fridge magnet.
Salted Caramel Icing Sugar
Coffee Icing Sugar
Key Lime Icing Sugar
Chocolate Lime Cocoa Powder

On opening the package and seeing all these goodies inside, my mind was racing with recipe ideas. I was very excited as the only one of these flavours I had even ever made from scratch previously was coffee icing.  Previously I didn’t even know that flavoured icing sugar existed. But since there are several products to review, I’ve decided that I’m going to do a series of posts, featuring a range of recipes using these products. And the final post will also include a giveaway, so keep a look out for details.

So this first post focusses on the Salted Caramel Icing Sugar which I used to ice a batch of Carrot Muffins. Carrot cake or muffins is something I had never tried baking previously, but in January I baked my first batch of butternut squash muffins which were delicious and I thought I could do something similar using carrots. (Sorry still haven’t got round to blogging the butternut squash recipe). Carrot cake is traditionally decorated with cream cheese frosting, but I thought the salted caramel flavour would work well.

Carrot Muffins with Salted Caramel Buttercream Icing

Carrot Muffins with Salted Caramel Buttercream Icing

Carrot Muffins

Ingredients (makes 12)

110g sultanas
300ml warm water
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
175ml vegetable oil
75g dark brown soft sugar
225g grated carrots

Method

Combine sultanas and water in a small bowl.
Soak sultanas for 15 minutes, then drain, discarding the water.
Peel and grate the carrots.
Preheat oven to 180 degree C / 160 fan / Gas mark 4.
Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
In a large bowl, sieve together flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil and sugar and beat well.
Combine egg mixture and flour mixture and mix just until moistened.
Fold in grated carrots and drained sultanas.
Spoon into prepared muffin tins.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before icing.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Icing

Ingredients (to ice 12 muffins)

125g Sugar and Crumbs salted caramel icing sugar
63g butter

Method

Ensure the butter is softened first.
Beat the butter and icing sugar together, either by hand or using an electric mixer.
Spread on the tops of the muffins.
Serve and enjoy.

And the result was absolutely delicious. The salted caramel flavour really complemented the moist carrot muffins. The packet I received was 250g, so I’m tempted to make the same recipe again. Or should I come up with something different?

This product costs £2.99 for 250g or £4.99 for 500g so it is significantly more expensive than standard icing sugar at the supermarket, which is currently about £1 for 500g. But you have saved yourself having to search for a recipe to make your own caramel icing and some of the effort, as I expect any caramel recipe would start with having to melt butter and brown sugar. I leave it to you the reader to decide if this product is right for you? For me personally, I would buy it to use when baking a special treat.

But do take a look at the Sugar and Crumbs website to see all their other flavours of icing sugar and cocoa powder. They have an interesting range, which are all naturally flavoured. They sell cake toppers, sugarpaste and sprinkles too and have some bundle special offers.

And finally don’t forget to watch out for my other posts in this series. Post 2 will be published in about a week and a half’s time.

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

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Hobbits cookies

Cookie dough

Ready to bake

Yummy

I tried baking Dinner Bank’s Hobbits cookies recipe today and my kids went mad for them. Will definitely be making these again.

DINNER BANK

My Hobbits cookies are something which is dedicated to my children. When they lived at home then disappeared cakes double-time. But I understand and yet today so I do not bake them all at once without parts dough into 4-6 pieces. Slices up and let the others go into the freezer unbaked.

One tip, if you use a machine, then add the raisins at the end. Otherwise they break worked, as mine was now, therefore, became the cookies dark.

270 g of room temperature butter
160 g of sugar
160g brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
380 g of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
110 g of oatmeal
220g raisins
Beat butter and sugar fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients and make sure everything is mixed well and becomes a dough ball. Take the dough ball divide into 4…

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