Monday, 1 December 2014

'Tis the season to eat mince pies...

It has been SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO long since I've blogged. Having 2 little men and working part time has kept me so busy, and not left a lot of time for baking, but I am aiming to rectify that. Today is the 1st of December so that means Christmas baking!!! I am doing my cake later in the week (post to follow) so today was all about mince pies. I decided to try some different toppings on mince pies after reading this recipe:

I made half the amount of pastry to make 12 mince pies, and also added some orange zest for some extra flavour. This pastry came together really well and was really easy to roll out thinly after it was chilled in the fridge, so I will definitely make it again.
I decided to try out the macaroon topping and used a piping bag to get as even as coverage as possible, but it doesn't pipe that evenly and will use a teaspoon next time to dollop it on. I halved the recipe as I was only making 12 rather than 24 but I found it was only enough to cover 6 mince pies!! Next time I will definitely double the amount of almond macaroon mix. 
Luckily, I always have some crumble topping on standby in the freezer so I spooned this on top of the others and voila- crisis averted! The crumble ones could have done with a few minutes more in the oven so will make them in separate trays next time, I'm going to make a few trays worth for the freezer over the Christmas season.
Cannot wait to tuck into my first mince pie of the season later on.

Let me know what festive treats you are baking up in your kitchen

Monday, 22 September 2014


It is definitely starting to feel Autumnal here in the UK, with chilly mornings and evenings and sunny afternoons. I of course, am thinking about Christmas already and have big plans for gingerbread house building so thought I'd share my favourite gingerbread recipe (I think it came originally from an old Dorling Kindersley children's cookbook, I'm sorry I can't remember which one) with you in case you have a gingerbread house to plan too. I'm going to use this template from BBC Good Food as I've heard good things about it:


120z/340g plain flour,
4oz/115g butter,
6oz/175g soft, brown sugar,
2 tsp ground ginger,
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda,
1 beaten egg,
4 tbsp golden syrup.

1. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan over a low heat until melted. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
2. Mix in all the dry ingredients and egg nd combine until you get a wet dough.
3. Tear off a large piece of clingfilm and pour the dough into it and wrap it up. Put in the fridge for half an hour.
4. Flour a surface and turn out the dough. It is quite a wet dough so give it a good flouring on both sides before rolling it out. 
5. Preheat the oven to 190C and grease 2 baking trays.
6. Roll and cut out any shapes you like either using cutters or freehand. They will spread and puff a bit when cooking so leave spaces between them on the tray.
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden.
8. Leave to cool on a wire rack then ice if desired.

Hope you enjoy this scrummy Autumnal/Winter recipe as much as we do.
PS. The raw dough is delicious too!!
PPS. If you are planning on building a gingerbread house there are loads of fab ideas on Pinterest. As I'm making mine with a 3 year old I am not imagining it to look like this but we can dream!!
I love Gingerbread houses. They  make the  house smell so nice. I fell in love with at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. They have a regional wide Ginger Bread House contest each year and there are some awesome creative ones there. Memories...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Time for tea!

 The lashing rain and Autumny temperatures this morning put us firmly in the mood for toasted teacakes so I turned to this super easy Hairy Bikers recipe. If you have a mixer then you can really just throw everything in and let it do the work for you! We are going to enjoy ours toasted and buttered this evening. Here's a link to the recipe:

Thursday, 24 July 2014

What's your favourite?

I have been busy having a sort out of my cookery books and thought I'd share a few of my thoughts on some of them with you. Here are some of the ones I use the most, but I have many more to work my way through too, including a very special Laduree Sugar book that I am going to really enjoy exploring when I have some free time. Let me know on here, or on my Facebook page what your favourite cookery books are, I'd love some new ideas!

Jane Bull- The Ultimate Cooking Book- I've had this book since I was a tween and have always loved books like this, full of fun recipes, loads of pictures and I love using ideas from this with my little man.

The Great British Bake Off- Turning Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers- I've not really explored this book yet as it all about making things look fabulous and with 2 little men I don't have a lot of time for fabulous baking, but I am looking forward to exploring it more in the future.

Dave Myers and Si King- The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight- I LOVE some of the recipes in this book. There are loads of low cal tasty meals, and they are easily adapted to veggies like us. My favourites are some of the Mexican inspired dishes as this is our favourite cuisine!

Delia Smith- Delia's Complete Cookery Course- We were given this book as an engagement present 8 years ago and often dip in and out of it. Although we don't often cook lots of 'posh' food or any meat it has lots of great, traditional recipes for things like pancakes, Yorkshire puddings etc.

Nigella Lawson- How to be a Domestic Goddess- This is a very well thumbed book full of yummy treats. I especially like the chocolate brownie recipe and the pineapple chutney. As I flicked through the other day I spotted a gingerbread tray bake made with black treacle that I'm going to try.

Paul Hollywood- Bread- I adore this book as Paul personally signed it to me!! Aside from that, what I also love about this book is that it is full of delicious and interesting bread recipes from all over the world, and after each recipe there is a full meal to use that bread in eg. naan bread followed by a curry recipe, tortillas followed by a mexican tortilla stack recipe. It makes you think about different ways to use bread in meals (not just for lunchtime sandwiches) and has a really wide variety of recipes to follow.

Paul Hollywood- How to Bake- Full of bread and cakes, I have used this book recently to make barm cakes and Christmas swirls. It has lots of easy to follow recipes with clear times for how long each recipe will take (as I'm sure you know bread making takes quite a while). Plus, it has the added bonus of pictures of the lovely Paul.

The Dairy Book of Home Cookery- This book is an oldie but a goodie! My Mum always had a copy of this when we were younger (and still does now) and it is packed with classic recipes for all sorts of cooking! I mainly use the baking section; flapjacks, bread and butter pudding, drop scones etc.

Mary Berry- Christmas Collection- I got this for a Christmas present last year so not had a chance to use it yet. Roll on Christmas so I can get some seasonal, jingly, candy cane bake on!

Marian Keyes- Saved by Cake- You may know that Marian Keyes is more well known as a chicklit author and coloumist but she is also a talented cookery writer. She wrote this book to help her through a period of depression and the book is full of feelgood recipes. I love the self saucing chocolate pudding that doesn't need cream or chocolate (uses cocoa) so can easily be made with cupboard ingredients!

Nigella Lawson- Kitchen- This is a massive book that I am still getting to know. I recently make Mexican lasagne from here which was yummy, and I know there are loads more recipes to try. I need to take some time to sit down and have a proper read through. I might just do that now....

Cathryn Dresser- Let's Bake!- This book arrived today and I am really excited by it. If you don't know Cathryn is a local to me, Mum of 2 who appeared on the Great British Bake Off. I have also met her a couple of times and she is lovely. It is aimed at baking with children and just having a quick flick earlier I have seen LOADS of recipes that I am going to try with my biggest little man. It is split into seasons with recipes suited to each time of year, and I cannot wait to work my way through them with my boy!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Cheesy, corny, chillie cornbread!

 Cornbread is one of my favourite breads, and today myself and the biggest little man made some with cheese, sweetcorn and jalapenos. It is so easy to make as you just chuck everything into the mixer, then spread it in a dish (it has the consistency of cake mixture) and bake until it's golden goodness is ready. Whenever I've looked around for cornbread recipes they often seem to have a lot of sugar in, which tastes a bit odd to me, but maybe this is traditional? I have settled on using this recipe now:
but I reduced the sugar to 1 tablespoon, then I added grated cheese and corn and topped it with jalapenos so I could take them off for the little men. If I was just making it for me and hubby I would put some in too. We had this tonight with sweet potato and chipotle soup, but it is also delicious baked on top of chilli like Nigella Lawson does or served alongside other mexican dishes.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Homemade toffee sauce!

I can't stand throwing away good food and am always looking for recipes to use things up. We are not big cream eaters in our house but at the moment you often get a free pot of double cream with a punnet of strawberries. As this pot of cream neared it's use by date I decided I better use it up sharpish, so with a few other ingredients I turned it into rich and indulgent toffee sauce, perfect for pancakes, ice cream and puddings. As a rule with making toffee sauces you want to use an equal amount of butter, sugar and syrup, or if you are using cream then reduce the amount of butter. I added a dash of vanilla too as I think it's yummy in everything, but you could leave it out if you'd rather.

Yummy Mummy's Toffee Sauce

75g Stork (or you could use butter),
150g light brown sugar,
150g golden syrup,
1/2 tsp vanilla extract,
150ml double cream.

1. Put all the ingredients in a pan and heat until the butter has melted and they have combined. Bring to the boil.
2. Boil rapidly (like you do with a jam) for 4 minutes, stirring constantly so that it doesn't stick or burn. It will be very hot but shouldn't be spitting at you, if it is then turn it down.

3. Pour into a bowl to cool. It will still be quite runny but will thicken as it cools. Don't be tempted to sneak a spoonful too soon, it is very hot and will burn your tongue (lesson learnt!).

This sauce can then be refrigerated or frozen for another day! Perfect on a ice cream sundae in the sunshine!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Perfect chocolate chip cookies!

I feel like I have stumbled upon some sort of Holy Grail this afternoon; the perfect chocolate chip cookie, perfectly crisp on the outside, with a soft, squidgy interior, packed full of chocolate. I have used many cookie recipes and never found one that made these perfect cookies, until today! The recipe is in American cups so I have used Delia's conversion chart to put the weights in grams and ozs, but I have not tested these measurements! Next time I make them I will use cups but weigh as I go so I can guarantee the conversion! If you try it before me then let me know! NOTE: I have now weighed this recipe as I've made it and put in brackets the weights in grams for anyone who doesn't own American cups.
This is the original recipe that I worked from:

So anyone, without further ado, here we go...

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups (320g) all purpose/self raising flour,
1/2 tsp baking powder,
1/2 tsp salt,
3/4 cup (130g) Stork, melted.
1 cup (170g) packed brown sugar,
1/2 cup 100g) caster sugar,
1 tsp vanilla extract,
1 egg,
1 additional egg yolk,
2 cups (350g) (I did say they had a lot of chocolate in!) chocolate chips.

1. Preheat the oven to 325F/170C.
2. Measure all of the dry ingredients apart from the chocolate chips into a bowl or mixer. Add the egg and additional egg yolk.
3. Melt the Stork (I did this in the microwave in 15 second bursts). Allow to cool slightly.
4. Add the Stork and chocolate chips and mix until you have a thick dough you can pick up and roll into a ball. At this stage me and little big man did quite a bit of tasting!!
5. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Unwrap the dough and roll into balls, spreading them out on ungreased baking trays. I made 24 cookies from the dough, post snaffling!
7. Bake for 15 minutes until just starting to brown, don't leave them in too long or the middles won't have the yummy gooeyness.
8. Leave on the baking trays for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack and enjoy with a glass of cold milk!

Hope you LOVE these cookies as much as I do, I can now be 'that Mom' when my boys start school who makes amazing cookies for when they come through the door!