Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Who doesn't love pizza!

I am determined to get into my LBD for Christmas, 
so, I  have been pretty good, at sticking to my 1200 calorie-a-day diet.
Who would have thought I could eat Pizza for lunch, 
but here's a quick and easy low-cal version.


This is a wholemeal, tortilla wrap spread with a couple of spoonfuls of pasta sauce. 
Topped with 2 slices of wafer thin ham, 20g half fat cheese and a few black olives.
It takes about 5 or 6 minutes to cook and then I add a little rocket as garnish.
Quick. Easy. Tasty.


 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

You shall have a fishy, on a little dishy.


Sometimes, when it's wet and windy and miserable outside, I crave SALAD!!
I know,  bizarre right??
This Salmon dish is perfect for just such cravings and it's nice and light,
so you can fit in a wedge of chocolate cake for pudding ;-)

I drizzle some honey over my salmon and sprinkle on some sunflower seeds.
Then bake in the oven (180C) for about 10 mins, or until cooked through.
Place on a bed of baby leaf salad, celmentine segments and beetroot.
Drizzle with Balsamic dressing.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Sugar Rush

Before the government adds a tax to sugar,
 I thought I'd better share this peanut brittle recipe with you.

This is SERIOUSLY good.


It's chock full of peanuts and  has a great snap
 (so it won't pull your fillings out!)

I'm not sure how long it will keep for, 
but it would make a great Xmas pressie,
in a pretty jar, tied with ribbon.

Peanut Brittle
200g caster sugar
75g brown sugar
75g golden syrup
25g butter
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
200g peanuts 

Add the caster sugar, brown sugar and syrup to a pan with 75ml water.
Heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the butter.
Heat to 154C on a sugar thermometer (crack stage).
This can take a while,  but don't be tempted to turn up the heat too much or it will burn. 
Stir slowly from time to time.
When it's reached temperature, take off the heat and add the bicarb. 
Stir in the peanuts - do this quickly, as it will already be starting to set.
Pour onto a sheet of greasperoof paper and level with the back of a spoon.
Leave to set. 
Once set, it's easy to break up by hand.
Store in an air tight tin, but trust me, it won't last long!


Monday, 28 October 2013

Meat Free Monday

We do try to have at least one vegetarian meal a week, and Mondays work for us.
I'm usually at home doing the laundry and the general after-weekend clean up - so an afternoon in the kitchen suits me perfectly.
Having a meat free dish is not only healthy, but can work out economical too.


This Lentil & Vegetable Curry is made with red lentils, butternut squash, carrots and green beans.
It's really packed with flavour and has a lovely fresh, chilli hit.
The recipe is from  Hairy Bikers Great Curries


Sunday, 20 October 2013

Love Your Mummy!

Don't you just love Pinterest?
I found these cute little 'Mummy Dogs' on there,
and they are so easy to make.



All you need is a tin of hotdogs, a shortcrust pastry sheet and a little mustard.
Cut the pastry sheet into thin strips and just wrap around each hotdog. 
Push open the pastry a little at the top, for the 'face'. 
Place on a greased baking tray and brush with a little beaten egg.
Bake as per your pastry instructions.
(Mine took about 30mins at 170C)
Use a toothpick to dot on a little mustard, for the 'eyes'.
 


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Comfort Pudding

Nothing ends an Autumn meal quite like a Blackberry & Apple Crumble
 - it's a real crowd pleaser.
Here's one I made at the weekend.
Despite 'not wanting' any, my dd managed to eat a big bowl full after dinner and much to 
Mr. Kiss' annoyance, she even ate the leftovers for breakfast the next day!

Heat the oven to 180C/160 Fan.
Peel and core 3 eating apples and 2 Bramleys - slice thickly.
Put the apples in a pan with 2tsp cinnamon, 100g demerara sugar and a splash of water.
Cook slowly, until the apples are beginning to soften, but still retain their shape.
Place the apples in an ovenproof dish. Scatter over the blackberries.

You can jazz up your crumble topping with dried fruits or nuts, 
but I usually just stick to a simple, oaty mix.

100g plain flour  
50g porridge oats   
75g butter    
100g brown sugar

Put everything in a food processor and blitz a few times, until it looks, well...crumbly!! 
You don't want a really fine crumb.
(You can do this by hand if you have to).
Scatter the crumble mix over the fruit, covering it completely.
Bake in your preheated oven for 40 mins.
Keep your eye on the crumble near the end of the cooking time,
so that the topping doesn't burn.

Serve with custard, cream, or ice-cream.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Autumn Fruits

Here's another first for me.
I had never cooked figs before, but they were simply delicious
in this very easy Autumn fruit salad


Oven 180C / 160C Fan.
4 figs,  halved.   4 plums, halved and stoned
Place the fruit in an ovenproof dish and scatter with about 80g brown sugar. 
Pour over 200ml red wine.
Cook for approx 45mins.
You want the fruit to be soft, but still have a little shape to it.
Take out of the oven and allow to cool for 10mins.
Before serving, sprinkle with 40g walnuts.
Serve with a dollop of fresh cream, or mascarpone, or my favourite,  vanilla custard.

You can use other fruits in this too - whatever you have to hand really. 
Peaches, pears, nectarines or apricots would work well.
And you can substitute the walnuts for almonds.


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Olive You

They say that our tastes change as we get older - 
well, it's taken me nearly 50 40 years to get used to the taste of olives.
I still can't eat them on their own, 
but black olives in a sweet, tomato sauce, with salty anchovies - delicious.

Here's a fabulous low-fat, low-cal Chicken Puttanesca from Sarah Raven. 
Click on the link, to show you how it could look 
if you weren't being pestered to just 'get it on the plate.'    ;-)


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sweet Dumpling

I really wasn't going to blog these Apple Dumplings.
I made them for the first time at the weekend and I was running so late they just kind of got thrown together,
but,  wow! were they good.
If you make one pudding this autumn, make it these apple dumplings.


I found the recipe at all recipes and then spent about an hour trying to convert it to UK measurements and reduce it to 4 apples.
Here's my approx. recipe. I don't think it needs to be exact.

Shortcrust pastry
4 granny smith apples
Juice of 1 lemon
80g butter (cut into 6 pieces. 4 for the apples and 2 for the sauce)
120g brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Roll out the pastry into 4 approx. 6" x 6" squares. Depending on the size of your apples!
Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a shallow dish.
Peel and core the apples. Roll each apple in the lemon juice, then in the sugar and spice mix.
Place an apple on each pastry square and put a piece of butter inside. 
If there's  any remaining sugar mix pour it over the apples.
With slightly wet fingertips bring a corner of pastry to the top of the apple, then bring the opposite corner up and press together. Bring up the remaining corners and press together to completely seal in the apple.
This is where I was rushing, so my apples look a little rough. If you take your time you can make them nice and neat and even decorate them with pastry leaves.
Put the completed dumplings in an ovenproof dish.

For the sauce I stuck to the original recipe, but had loads left over, so I think it could easily be halved.

Approx half measures = 465ml water, 300g white sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract. (Plus the remaining pieces of butter.)
Place everything in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Boil for 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved.
Pour over the dumplings.
Don't expect the sauce to look like caramel. At this stage mine was very thin and pale - but it does thicken and caramalise in the oven.

Bake for 50 - 60 minutes.

This recipe definitely makes it into the hall of fame.
They were really delicious and  big hit with my hubby :-)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

I Believe In Soup

I can just about cope with taking the dog for a long walk, across the fields, 
in the chilly September air,
if I know there is a big pot of simmering, soup waiting for me when I get home.
This Lentil and Bacon Soup is a real winner and one I will make over and over.






Saturday, 14 September 2013

Croissants - not just for breakfast!

If you're looking for a tasty alternative to everyday pizza, this is it.
These stuffed croissants are easy to make and would be great for a Halloween Party, or any chilled out gathering ;-)


You could make up a whole batch of these with different fillings, but I used the holy trinity of pizza flavours - cheese, onion and tomato - and then added some chorizo.

Preheat oven to 180C
Fry the onions and some sliced button mushrooms in a little oil, then add some sliced chorizo.
Tip in a tin of chopped tomatoes (I always add a teaspoon of sugar to my tomatoes) and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. 
Cut deep slashes into the top of the croissants and put them on a baking tray. Fill them with your mixture.
Top the croissants with grated cheddar and bake for 5 or 6 minutes - until the cheese has melted.

You cannot eat just one of these - so make sure you make plenty!!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Keep Calm and Eat Pudding

Autumn is my favourite time of year - and it's just around the corner.
I am looking forward to swapping my ice creams, fruit salads and cheesecakes
for sponges, crumbles and cobblers - all with lashings of custard (of course).

Here's a delicious variation on the classic bread and butter pudding - 
Baked Maple & Walnut Croissant Pudding


75g sultanas
3tbsp brandy
50g butter
4 large croissants
40g walnuts, roughly chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
300ml milk
150ml single cream
120ml maple syrup
25g demerara sugar
 
Place the sultanas and brandy in a small pan and heat until warm. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for an hour.
Lightly grease your dish. Cut the croissants into thick slices and spread with butter on one side.
Arrange the croissant slices, butter side up, and slightly overlapping, in your dish. Sprinkle over the brandy soaked sultanas and walnuts.
In a large bowl beat the eggs and milk together. Then gradually beat in the single cream and maple syrup.
Pour the custard through a sieve, over the croissants.
Leave to stand for 30 mins, so that the croissants absorb some of the custard.
Sprinkle the sugar over the top. Cover the dish and bake for 40 mins in a pre-heated oven.  180C/160C Fan.
Remove the lid and continue to bake for a further 20 mins, or until the custard is set and the top is golden. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

If it walks like a duck...


Don't be fooled into thinking that duck is difficult to cook - it's really not. 
And, it's quick..   you can have a perfect duck breast, crispy skin and meltingly, tender pink meat, on the table in under 20 minutes.
The added bonus for me, is that it goes with all sorts of fruit...  cranberries, pears, cherries, plums, pomegranate.. 
I do love fruit in my food :-)

Here's my quick, warm duck salad with blackberries.


For the salad I mixed together some cooked green beans, salad leaves, cooked beetroot, feta cheese, blackberries and walnuts.
I made up my own dressing of 2 tbsp cranberry sauce, 1 tsp wholegrain mustard, 50ml olive oil, and 20 ml white wine vinegar.
Just before serving toss the salad gently with the dressing. 
I like his type of salad at room temperature too - those flavours just don't come out if everything is cold from the fridge.

Duck breast.
Preheat the oven to 190C/ 170 Fan
Score the skin on the duck breast and season it well.
Put your pan on a medium heat and place the duck breast in it - skin side down. You want that skin to get nice and crispy. There's no need to add any oil.
Cook for 6 - 8 minutes, until the skin is golden brown. 
Transfer to the oven and cook for a further 6 minutes  (slightly more if you don't wan't your duck pink).
Take the duck out and let it rest for a few minutes.

Now is the time to add the dressing to your salad, and pile it onto plates. 
Slice the duck breast and place it on top. Eat!! :-)

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Experimental Thursdays

Thursday's tea can be an interesting affair. What I've planned to cook usually goes out the window, as I try and use up whatever is lurking at the bottom of the fridge.
It can be a bit hit and miss ;-)

Last Thursday was a big hit. 
This puff pastry tart was delicious and it's something I will definitely make again. 
It would be a great thing to throw together when you have unexpected visitors.


All you need is the puff pastry sheet and you can make a filling out of just about anything.

I covered my pastry base with some black pepper Boursin cheese, leaving a 2cm border all the way round.
Then, I fried some onion and diced pancetta and cooked my broccoli, and scattered everything on top of the cheese.
I finished by grating some cheddar over the top (about 100g) and brushing the pastry border with a little beated egg.

Who knew broccoli could taste so good!   :-)
Cook for about 15mins in a pre-heated oven - 220C / 200 Fan, until the pastry is risen and cooked through and the cheese has melted.


Friday, 16 August 2013

Weekly Menu Fri 16th - Thurs 22nd August

Friday - roast chicken with waldorf salad
Saturday - slow cooker lasagna
Sunday - cheeseburgers
Monday - salmon in watercress sauce
Tuesday - spanish pork stew with chorizo
Wednesday - sweet & sour fish with pineapple rice
Thursday - tuna nicoise


Monday, 12 August 2013

Delicious Frangipane

Flipping through a stack of old food magazines last week,
a recipe for Strawberry Bakewell caught my eye.
I love frangipane, but for some reason I have never made a bakewell tart before.
I thought I'd better put that right ;-)

 Who knew Bakewell Tarts were so easy to make - especially following this recipe from Nigel Slater.

24cm pastry case.  You can make your own, but I am lazy and used a shop bought one.
Oven 180C / Fan 160C

175g. softened butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
150g ground almonds
75g plain flour
200g jam (A sharper jam is better to contrast with the sweet strawberries. I used blackcurrant.)
400g strawberries, hulled
6 heaped tbsps icing sugar
a little lemon juice.

Spread the jam over the base of the pastry case.
Cream the butter and sugar together, until smooth and pale.
Add the lightly beaten eggs, a little at a time.
Mix in the ground almonds and flour.
Spoon this almond filling over the jam and smooth down gently.
Bake for 30 - 35 mins, until risen and lightly firm.
Allow to cool a little before decorating with the strawberries.
Mix the icing sugar with a little lemon juice to make a lemony icing, and drizzle over the strawberries.


Friday, 9 August 2013

Weekly Menu Friday 9th - Thursday 15th August

Friday - grilled lamb with greek salad and tzatziki
Saturday - wedding food!!
Sunday - southern fried chicken with green salad
Monday - summer poached chicken with greens
Tuesday - paprika pork with new potatoes
Wednesday - cajun steak with smoky baked beans
Thursday - spinach samosas with indian salad

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Love Your Leftovers

Don't throw those leftovers away - 
make them into pasties, for a packed lunch or a picnic in the park.

I made Ham & Pea Pasties, but you could use anything you have leftover - 
curry, Sunday lunch, chicken in sauce, cauliflower cheese...


I used ready made shortcrust pastry.
Roll the pastry out and use a small saucer to cut out rounds.
Place a spoonful of your filling into each round, wet the edges with water, then fold over and pinch together.
Mark the edges with the back of a fork and brush all over with beaten egg.
Bake in a pre-heated oven (200C/180Fan) for 20 - 30 mins, until cooked and golden.

You can even make these sweet, by using fruit or jam as a filling and sprinkling caster sugar over them before baking.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Weekly Menu - Sat 3rd to Thur 8th August

Saturday - chilli, lime roast chicken with fresh peas and honey chantenay carrots
Sunday - asian chicken, mandarin and cashew nut salad
Monday - baked pork tenderloin with fennel
Tuesday - duck salad with blackberries
Wednesday - turkey meatball and pineapple curry
Thursday - roast salmon with vine tomatoes
 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

C is for Crab

One of my earliest memories is of my Dad cooking crab, on a little stove, in a seaside caravan.
I think that's why I love it so much.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get fresh crab meat for this dish - I found a tub of it in the chiller cabinet and thought it would be better than canned, but it was a little disappointing.
Thanks to a fabulous dressing though, the salad was still tasty.


If you see some fresh crab this is definitely worth making. It's low fat, low cal and very quick to make. 
The recipe is in the Good Food Mag (August), but doesn't seem to have made it to the website yet.
It's basically crab, rice noodles, courgette, cucumber, spring onions, coriander and mint.
I tweaked the dressing a little and it was delicious.

Dressing
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
2tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp soft brown sugar
juice and zest of 1 lime



Monday, 29 July 2013

Hot Puds

Fruit salads, ice cream and jellies are all well and good in the summer,
but sometimes I still hanker after a hot pud.
These coconut sponges fit the bill perfectly - 
lovely and sweet, with just the right amount of stodginess :-)
 

but with the glut of strawberries around at the moment,
I used them instead of the raspberries.

I think I may have a little trouble with my portion control - 
the recipe says this will serve 6, but I only managed 2 cups
and 2 little ramekins.
You could probably stretch it out to 4 cups with a little extra room for the strawberry sauce.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Oven Baked Sausages

Here's another really simple, but tasty supper dish - 


I served this with some crusty bread and a green salad.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Store Cupboard Ice Cream

Even after 10 months in our new house, we still have unpacked boxes.
In one of them I discovered my ice-cream maker.
Here's a simple, strawberry ice-cream recipe


500g Strawberries
400g tin of evaporated milk
100g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Chill the tin of evaporated milk overnight, or at least for a few hours.  
Hull the strawberries and mash them with the lemon juice.
Beat the chilled milk until thick, stir in the icing sugar and strawberry puree.
Pour the mixture into the ice-cream maker and churn for 20 - 30 mins.
This ice-cream is best eaten straight away, but you can freeze it for later.
It can go quite hard frozen so make sure you allow it to soften a little before serving.

Weekly Menu Friday 26th July - Thursday 1st Aug

Friday - Strawberry Salad with Halloumi and Pancetta
Saturday - Ploughman's Lunch
Sunday - Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Bagels
Monday - (FAST) No Potato Tuna Nicoise
Tuesday - Chicken Cacciatora
Wednesday - Homemade Ham & Pea Pasties
Thursday - (FAST) Cottage Pie

Monday, 22 July 2013

Fish supper

Not a great picture here I'm afraid (it was taken on my phone), 
but I wanted to share this quick, supper recipe with you.
 I've made this a few times now and it's always turned out well.


The oil from the peppers gives the potatoes a really lovely flavour,
 but I do par boil my potatoes before adding them.
The fish itself, cooks beautifully sat on top of the other ingredients.
I see that someone has added some chorizo, and a splash of white wine, 
so I will try that next time.
 

Weekly Menu: Friday 19th - Thursday 25th July 2013

Friday - oven baked sausages with balsamic tomatoes
Saturday - night out :-)
Sunday -  chicken hoisin wraps with spring onion
Monday - oven baked salmon with asparagus, broccoli and cherry toms
Tuesday - crab noodle salad. Hot stawberry and coconut puddings
Wednesday - lamb, lemon and rosemary traybake
Thursday - runner bean, smoked trout and potato salad.

     

 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

It's Margarita Time!



When it comes to making cocktails, I always discover that I have a vital ingredient missing. 
I have no triple sec, or angostura bitters, no grenadine or dry vermouth.
If I want to get serious about my drinks, I will have to invest in some of these :-)

For now though, I am happy to throw a few things together.
This melon margarita was quick and easy to make
and just perfect for a hot, summers day.
  

Recipe.
1/2 cantaloupe melon, de-seeded and peeled.
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tsps sugar
3oz tequila (about 6 tbsps) You can add more, or less to your taste.
8 ice cubes

Blitz everything together in a blender.
This made enough to fill that little glass jug that you can see above - about 500ml.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Oodles of Noodles

Noodles are something that I rarely use and I've never tried them in a salad before, 
but this dish was a big hit.
It looked good, tasted great and was suprisingly filling.


The recipe, Thai Beef & Basil with Glass Noodles, 
comes from Harry Eastwood's book, A Salad for All Seasons.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Pimm's O'clock


When I saw Harry Eastwood's new cookery book, A Salad for all Seasons, I couldn't resist it.
The recipes look delicious and easy to prepare, and I think they will be great for my non FAST days.

This is my first make from it -  Pimm's Fruit Salad.

The syrup is made from 200ml Pimm's and 70g caster sugar.
I had some Blackberry and Elderflower Pimms that worked so beautifully with the fruit
that Mr Kiss didn't even notice the pieces of chopped cucumber :-)


Monday, 24 June 2013

Eat more chickin

I thought I would sail through my FAST days,
but supper couldn't come round soon enough tonight.
I was starvin' marvin.

Hoisin chicken with lettuce and mushrooms
(recipe from 'the FAST diet recipe book)

Chicken and mushroom is always going to be a hit with me, and
the added splash of hoisin made this very tasty.


 

Diets always start on Mondays

My 'new diet' criteria...

  • Easy to follow
  • No ridiculous 'health' foods that are impossible to get hold of
  • I still want to be able to cook, so no meal replacements like bars, or shakes
  • Has to be healthy and balanced, with no banned foods.
  • I like cheap :-) so, no expensive ingredients
  • I have to be able to talk Mr Kiss into following it too, so it has to allow 'proper' food - no cottage cheese salads or fromage frais sauces.
  • I have to lose at least SOME weight :-)

RESULTS.
                              The FAST diet

Eat as you normally would 5 days of the week, and limit your calories to 500 on the other 2 days.
(600 for men)

Sounds easy, right?   Watch this space :-)

FAST Day Breakfast #1   (approx 200 calories)
 


Saturday, 22 June 2013

Diet, what diet?


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

This is definitely not a recipe for the faint hearted - 
it has a whopping 47g of fat per serving - 
naughty, but nice  :-)

Filling cannelloni is something I have never done before, so it was a bit messy to begin with,
but I soon got the hang of it,
using an icing bag, with the end snipped off.

Despite the recipe saying 10 servings, Mr Kiss and I managed to chomp our way through half of the dish.
Then I was sorely tempted to eat some more when it was cold.
I LOVE cold pasta.
But, I made myself freeze the leftovers for another day.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Strawberry Heaven

Men and their toys!!!     A recipe for disaster.
A couple of weeks ago our neighbour crashed his motorbike and shattered his knee
into more pieces than it should be!
He's just got out of the hospital, so I baked him a little treat.
 

I used the recipe from the Spring Cupcake Heaven magazine.  
To me, these were more like a muffin than a cupcake, but just as tasty.

 Recipe notes.
Instead of a nice golden brown colour, my cupcakes were a little on the grey side, 
has anyone else had this?
I think it's because of the juice from the strawberries. 
The original recipe called for them to be mashed, but next time I would just cut them into small pieces and see if that helps.

I ran out of icing sugar, so my recipe (above) uses 2/3rds of the original buttercream quantities, but as you can see from the picture, I still had plenty of frosting to generously cover the 12 cupcakes.

If you're wondering where to get strawberry syrup, for the buttercream, 
I used a strawberry dessert sauce,
the kind you buy in a squeezy bottle, to drizzle over ice cream. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Daddy or chips?

Chips, of course ;-)
Well, these are not, strictly speaking, chips
but they taste just as good and are probably better for you.

Sweet Potato Wedges.


Simply cut your sweet potatoes into wedges. 
You can peel them if you like, but I don't bother, I just wipe them with some kitchen roll and cut off any gnarly ends.
Then toss them in some oil and seasoning. 
Good old salt and pepper is fine, or try paprika or cajun seasoning, 
or my favourite, chinese 5 spice.
Put them on a baking sheet, in a single layer and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C (180Fan)
for about 25 - 30mins  - turning them after 15 mins.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Saucy Chicken and Veg


Broad beans are my favourite veg right now, and they are delicious in this saucy, summer dish.
When I'm cooking just for us, I tend to leave the beans in their skins - especially when they're going in this type of dish.
But, if I'm cooking for others, or using the beans in a salad, I take the skins off. 
It's time consuming, but they do look prettier that way.

Saucy Chicken and Veg recipe

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Mushroom and Sausage Pasta


Mushroom and Sausage Pasta Recipe



With the sausage, mushroom, bacon and egg in this dish,
 it's like a big, breakfast pasta.
It's a great way to stretch some basic ingredients 
and perfect for those chilly nights, 
when you want to comfort eat, in front of the TV.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Frozen Banana and Peanut Butter Cheesecake

I can't believe, that a couple of weeks ago, we were sitting outside, having our first BBQ, 
and enjoying some sunshine.
This weekend, instead of spring tarts and salads, I am back to making warming stews and rich hotpots.

Here's a dessert I made last week, which is great whatever the weather :-)



Ha! I know it looks like the cheesecake is sitting on a cork board, 
but I can assure you they are crumbled, chocolate digestives :-)
This was a really nice dessert and had a much stronger banana taste than I expected.
I covered mine with nestle caramel and then scattered on some peanuts, for extra crunch. 
 
Recipe notes.
I skipped the bit about freezing the bananas, as the ones I had were very ripe to start with. 
To serve the cheesecake you are supposed to take it out of the freezer for 20mins - don't leave it too much longer than that, or the banana in it will start to turn black. 
If you cut it into slices, then you can just take out as many as you need.

  

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Simple Coleslaw


Along with the rest of the country,  we dusted off the BBQ at the weekend
I love the smell of 'charcoal' in the morning! (in my best Robert Duvall voice).

Leaving Mr Kiss to play with the grill, I made a batch of coleslaw.
This is a really great coleslaw on it's own, but you can also jazz it up with whatever you fancy - 
grated cheese, apple, raisins, etc.




Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Basil, Pea and Pancetta Tart


Basil, Pea and Pancetta Tart


This was a delicious, fresh, spring tart that I will definitely make again.
I admit, I didn't follow the recipe to the letter.
It called for infusing the cream with the basil - who has time for that??
For the filling I lightly cooked the pancetta. I use the little cubes from Sainsbury's, which come in a 206g packet, that's twice as much as the recipe, but I added it all anyway ;-)
Then I cooked the broad beans and peas for a few minutes - podding the beans once they had cooled.
I put the filling in my cooked tart case and scattered the chopped basil over the top. Then poured over the beaten eggs, cream and parmesan and baked for 50 minutes.
Simple :-)

Monday, 29 April 2013

Boozy Black Forest Cupcakes

I'm not saying Mr Kiss is stuck in the 70's, but when I asked him what cake he would like for his birthday, his answer was Carrot Cake or Black Forest Gateau!!!

Here's my attempt to bring those Black Forest flavours a little more up to date.


I baked a simple, chocolate cupcake and then used my new little gadget to remove the core from each cake. You could do this with a sharp knife, but this little tool is so easy to use and makes a nice, neat hole.
I filled the holes with cherry pie filling and, since I didn't have any Kirsch, I added a glug of my favourite liqueur - Chambord (Black Raspberry).
 

The cakes were then topped with some whipped double cream,
 a morello cherry and some chocolate sprinkles.
 

They were delicious. 
The soft, cherry filling inside can make them a little messy to eat - but I can do messy!!
The alcohol turned out to be quite subtle - Chambord is only 16.5% proof, 
so next time I will try them with a stronger Kirsch, or Brandy.



Sunday, 14 April 2013

'99' Cupcakes

Fact: cupcakes make you feel better.
And that's not just eating them!
I took a plate of these round to a neighbour who was having a bad day - share the love :-)



There's nothing complicated about these little beauties.
They are a basic chocolate cupcakes, with a swirl of vanilla, cream cheese frosting -
decorated with a flake and a drizzle of strawberry sauce.
 

Two notes for anyone trying these
1. swirl the strawberry sauce on before you add the flake
2. buy twice as many flakes as you need, because you will eat test, half of them!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Bacon, Leek and Mushroom Quiche

Somehow, over the Easter weekend, most of the ingredients I bought for this
Leek, Mushroom and Gruyere Quiche, got used up in other things.
So, it ended up a bit of a mish mash.


I followed the recipe as much as I could - using a rolled sheet of ready made shortcrust pastry.
I only had a few mushrooms left, so I bulked it up with some bacon (4 rashers back bacon and 4 of smoked streaky) and
instead of the Gruyere I grated some extra mature cheddar.

When I mentioned 'quiche' to Mr Kiss, I think he was expecting something light and insipid, but this proved to be much more substantial and very tasty.
I can't wait to get stuck into the leftovers later :-)

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Baileys Cupcakes


The spring edition of Cupcake Heaven fell into my shopping basket last week - and whilst flicking through it - these Baileys Cupcakes called out to me :-)

They were de-licious. 
Not only is the Baileys in the cupcake mix, but a good glug of it goes into the buttercream too. 
Double Baileys - who can resist?



The original recipe is from Sarah Trivuncic at Maison Cupcake
(I halved the recipe and made 12 muffin sized cupcakes)
 


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Lemon Daisy Cupcakes

Ok - I may be a year or two behind everyone else - but I have finally cottoned on to the cupcake craze (just as cake pops are taking over!)
So, expect to see a lot more of these frosted cuties.

Cupcakes seem to come in so many different sizes it's making my head spin - 
and this size is more what I would call fairy cakes.


115g butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
115g SR flour
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsps lemon curd.

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4 and line a muffin tin with paper cases.
Beat the butter and sugar together, until pale and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.
Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in, then stir in the lemon juice and zest.
Spoon a dollop into each paper case and make an indentation in the centre with the back of a teaspoon. Drop in a dollop of lemon curd, then top with the remaining cake mixture.
Bake for 17 minutes, until risen and golden. 

To decorate I added a few drops of green colouring to a ready made buttercream filling. I piped swirls onto the cakes and topped them with edible daisies.

I found in a few of these cakes that the lemon curd sank to the bottom. Maybe I needed more cake mix underneath the lemon curd. But, I think next time I make these I will bake them, then cut out a little bit from the top of the cake (with an apple corer) and fill that with the lemon curd. That should work, do you think?

 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Coconut Cupcakes

I'm on a diet healthy eating plan at the moment, so I am supposed to be keeping away from cakes.
But these little cupcakes can't hurt, can they?
If I stand on one leg when I'm eating them, the calories don't even count at all!!


These are vanilla cupcakes with a lovely, cream cheese frosting.
Simple, but scrummy.

Frosting.
150g cream cheese            50g icing sugar
2 tsp lime juice                   dessicated coconut

Beat the cream cheese, icing sugar and lime juice in a bowl and spread on top of the cupcakes.
Put the coconut in a bowl and dip each cupcake in, until covered.