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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

That's What I Call New #12

Here’s another bunch of goodies I’ve been sent to sample. This food blogging adventure is great fun! I’m sure you will love some of the items below I’ve been sent to try…

JimJams hazelnut chocolate spread – it’s like that ‘other’ chocolate hazelnut spread but has way less sugar and is gluten-free. Still quite high in fat, but less sugar which is the enemy nowadays! It tastes almost as good as that ‘other’ chocolate hazelnut spread and is luverly eaten on toast, baked in some pastry or just from the jar with a spoon! Retails at around £2.79 for a  350 gram jar and can be purchased from Holland and Barrett, Dobbies Garden Centres, Ocado and more. JimJams also sell healthier jams, with high fruit content, marmalades and chocolate spreads which are all that bit more virtuous.

Clif Bars – I do like energy packed Clif Bars. I sometimes have one in my Boots meal deal on a Monday (I get it for £1 along with a sarnie and a drink, so why not?). The peanut butter one I usually get is really good. So when I was sent the coconut chocolate chip variety I was overjoyed that it tasted even better than the PB one. The bars are big, substantial slabs and keep you fuelled and feeling full! Full of protein and fibre, I really recommend these. Around £1.79 a bar from loads of retailers including Holland and Barrett.

Any excuse for some booze and I grab it with both hands. So when I was asked if I’d like to try Cranes cranberry cider – purportedly the first cranberry ‘cider’ in the world, my hands grabbed the keyboard and responded ‘Yes Please’! I was actually sent three varieties of Cranes cranberry cider. The original cranberry one, strawberry and kiwi and raspberry and pomegranate. They were all good – lovely with some ice in a glass on a sunny day. Very refreshing and all flavours were juicier than you would expect from the tart wee berries. Retails at around £24 for a dozen bottles.

Nuts in Ya Mouth’ contacted me and offered me nuts in my mouth and cereal. They are a nut roastery based in stratford Upon Avon. I was sent little pots of their flavoured nuts such as cashews and almonds in flavours like sour cream and onion, chilli and Mexican spice. Delicious with the cider (see above). They also offered me a bag of cereal in flavours such as raw granola coconut crunch and cocoa crunch. I opted for coconut variety and had some one morning for breakfast. Sadly this wasn’t for me. As much as I do enjoy healthier cereals, this one tasted a bit too much like eating nuts and seeds for me and although the coconut came through, I really didn’t enjoy it sadly. Perhaps that’s just me! Check out Nuts in Ya Mouth website for full details of their range.

Tempting my savoury buds was ‘I Sea’ Pasta. This is actually tagliatelle made from seaweed. When this was mentioned to me I gladly opted to give this a try. I love seaweed strips as a snack and often buy them from the Chinese supermarket. They are a healthy snack and I love the taste of the sea. The seaweed pasta was equally as good. I soaked mine in cold water and they softened up nicely. I tossed them with a bit of butter, and I know most folk don’t like ‘fishy’ foods and cheese together, but a shaving of parmesan over the top - I was in heaven! A great, healthy meal option, the pasta would also be good tossed with some cooked veggies. I Sea Pasta can be obtained from SeamoreFood and the 100 gram pack I received yields 500 grams once made. This retails at €4.95 a pack.

Lastly Schwartz contacted me and asked if I’d like to try their Grill Mates Homemade Burger mix. I was sent a couple of varieties to try – classic Steakhouse and American Smokehouse. This is a pouch of sauce which you mix with some mince. You then shape this into burgers ready to cook. I actually made mine into meatballs and baked them in the oven. 

You can also make them into koftas as the pack suggests. This is a great way to impart more flavour in your meat and have burgers or whatever shape of meat you like cooked up in no time at all with loads of taste. The packs retail at around £1.49 and can be purchased from most supermarkets.

A great tasty round up I’m sure you will agree!!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Strawberry and Kiwi Bliss Balls

dried strawberries and kiwifruit blended into clean eating healthy energy bliss balls

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that from time to time I like to visit my local Chinese supermarket. It’s a great source of ingredients that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

On my latest expedition one lunchtime, I came across a packet of dried kiwi fruit.  I love seeing dried fruits and wondering what I could pair them with.

The dried kiwi looked lovely in it’s pack, all glistening green with black specks in the centre.  I decided that strawberry and kiwi are always a good pairing and luckily I had purchased some dried strawberries in Holland and Barrett a while back – ideal.

I got my Optimum 9400 blender from Froothie out of the cupboard and set about measuring the ingredients. I whizzed up the kiwi and strawberry and it was a little dry, so I incorporated a bit of coconut oil into the mix and it became the perfect consistency. If you are looking to buy a blender, I can't recommend the Optimum 9400 highly enough - click on the link to purchase one.

I rolled the ‘dough’ from the blender into little balls which I then dusted in some desiccated coconut, as they were a bit sticky.

dried strawberries and kiwifruit blended into clean eating healthy energy bliss balls

I popped them in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours and then Disneyboi and I shared some later. These are perfect little balls of energy for a pre-workout boost, but actually taste like gummy sweets which kids and big kids like us would enjoy regardless of the fact they contain nothing too bad at all. 

They taste very sweet and would convert anyone who doesn’t think they like ‘faffy’ health foods.

dried strawberries and kiwifruit blended into clean eating healthy energy bliss balls

I’m loving this healthier ‘baking’ at the moment and will have to see what else I can come up with. Perhaps another trip to the Chinese supermarket is back on the cards!

If you can’t get hold of dried kiwi or strawberry in your local shops, they are easily purchased online.

Here’s how I made them…

print recipe

Strawberry and Kiwi Bliss Balls
Dried kiwi and strawberry pulsed together into little balls of bliss
  • 150 grams dried kiwifruit
  • 75 grams dried strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • desiccated coconut
Place the kiwi, strawberries and coconut oil in the blender and whizz until they form a ‘dough’.Remove from the blender and form small balls, rolling between your hands.Dust the balls in a little desiccated coconut and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.Enjoy!
Prep time: Chill time: Total time: Yield: 16 balls approx.

dried strawberries and kiwifruit blended into clean eating healthy energy bliss balls

Disclosure Statement: I received the blender from Froothie, free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Toasted Sesame Houmous with Corn Tortilla Chips

houmous or hummus made with toasted sesame oil and served with homemade corn tortilla chips

Houmous or Hummus – however you spell it, I bet you love it.

In the UK, houmous has grown from being something people thought only hippies ate, to a staple seen in every chiller cabinet up and down the UK’s supermarkets.

houmous or hummus made with toasted sesame oil and served with homemade corn tortilla chips

As Brits, we eat over 12,000 tonnes a year and its popularity shows no sign of waning.

It is high in protein and iron and can help to reduce cholesterol amongst other great health benefits such as fighting cancer and reducing inflammation.

As you possibly know, the main ingredient of houmous is chickpeas (did you know garbanzo beans are another name for chickpeas?) along with olive oil, tahini (sesame paste), garlic, lemon and cumin.

It’s really easy to make in a blender and I love whipping up a batch every now and then in my Optimum 9400 from Froothie. The super blender whips right through the ingredients making light work of the process. (And to clean up after I just add some boiling water, a touch of washing up liquid, pop it on high for a minute and it cleans itself.)

I came across a version of houmous on the Food Network America website which also incorporates toasted sesame oil into the ingredient list.
Toasted sesame oil was something I had never come across until a few years back. For years I had tried to make Chinese takeaway style fried rice at home and could never quite achieve ‘that’ particular flavour. Then I discovered toasted sesame oil in the supermarket and as soon as I opened the bottle, it just smelled of Chinese takeaway. Gorgeous.

When I saw the recipe for toasted sesame houmous, I had to give it a try. And, I loved it. It’s like the regular creamy houmous that we love but with an added toasted, nutty flavour going on. I made a huge bowl for a family gathering and my cousin’s partner practically ate the entire bowl!

houmous or hummus made with toasted sesame oil and served with homemade corn tortilla chips

I also made some tortilla chips to go with the dip which were super easy to conjure up. I used corn tortillas as opposed to wheat ones and this provides a slightly sweet taste and a firmer texture to the chips. I simply cut up a batch of shop-bought tortillas, sprayed them with some low-cal cooking oil spray and baked them in the oven until lightly browned, turning once during cooking time. Sprinkled after with salt, these were a tasty homemade treat to dip into the flavourful toasted sesame houmous.

houmous or hummus made with toasted sesame oil and served with homemade corn tortilla chips

Give this a try as a snack for the weekend, or to watch during the footie!

Here’s how it’s made.

print recipe

Toasted Sesame Houmous with Corn Tortilla Chips
Houmous made with toasted sesame oil and home made tortilla chips
  • 425 gram can of chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 package corn tortillas
  • Can of low-cal oil spray
  • to taste salt and pepper
Place the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini paste, cumin, garlic and oils in a blender and whizz until smooth.If the mix is too thick, add some water to loosen it up to the right consistency.Season to taste with salt and pepper and spoon into a serving bowl and place in the fridge.Preheat the oven to 180C and line a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper.Spray each tortilla with cooking oil spray until each side is coated.With a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into wedges. Each tortilla should yield about 12 wedges.Spread evenly over the baking sheets and bake for 6 minutes, remove and turn over.Bake for another 4 minutes or so until golden brown.Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper.Remove the houmous from the fridge and pour over more olive oil to garnish.Dig in!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Lots

Disclosure Statement: I received the Optimum 9400 free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Birthday Cake Bars

birthday cake bars funfetti sprinkles vanilla almond flavoured cake cut into individual servings

Although I'm baking a bit healthier these days, it doesn't mean that I can't bake treats like these Birthday Cake Bars for my regular baking club!

The Dundee Baking Club has been going for a good few months now. We were originally the Dundee branch of the Clandestine Cake Club where we could only make cakes.

We decided to ‘go it alone’ and started the Dundee Baking Club instead. This allowed us to bake whatever we wanted – cakes, cupakes, traybakes, sweet, savoury – anything baked as long as it fitted our theme.

Co-host Becca decided the theme this time, it was her birthday the day before, so she chose birthday as the theme.

As ever, it was great fun to see (and taste) how everyone interpreted the theme.

We had our first savoury bake (yay!) – Jackie made delicious sausage rolls. These were the perfect entrĂ©e into the sweet eats on offer also.

Becca made a chocolate condensed milk cake which looked fudgy and gooey. We also had party rings made by Catriona, Jane made a ‘sweetie’ cake adorned with various sweets, there was a strawberry pavlova, another chocolaty cake, a popcorn cake and I made birthday cake bars.

We had our quiz and everyone tucked into the treats as we sat and pondered our questions. A great night was had by everyone.

My treats, the birthday cake bars are really a big sheet cake cut into smaller bite size bars with buttercream on top of them.

birthday cake bars funfetti sprinkles vanilla almond flavoured cake cut into individual servings

To make them into birthday cake bars, they have added sprinkles which are dotted throughout the cake part of the bar. I also covered the buttercream on top of the bars with more sprinkles.

Due to not enough of one kind, I used three different types of sprinkle. Two in the cake batter and one kind on top.

birthday cake bars funfetti sprinkles vanilla almond flavoured cake cut into individual servings

To get a whiter than white buttercream I used goats butter which is paler in colour and clear vanilla extract. The whiteness really stands out against the colour of the sprinkles. But if you can't get hold of clear vanilla or don't want to use goat's butter, regular will of course do.

birthday cake bars funfetti sprinkles vanilla almond flavoured cake cut into individual servings

I also, added aside from lots of vanilla to the cake batter, a little almond extract which gives the birthday cake flavour.

You may know this sprinkle infused treat as funfetti, but whatever you call it, it’s perfect for birthdays or anytime!

Adapted from Food Network, here’s how I made them;

print recipe

Birthday Cake Bars
Cake bars made with sprinkles
  • CAKE
  • 225 grams unsalted butter
  • 340 grams granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 200 grams plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60 grams sprinkles
  • 225 grams Goat's butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
  • 450 grams icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • more Sprinkles
Line a 9”x13” pan with foil and preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan).Melt the butter in a saucepan and allow to cool slightly.Beat in the sugar.Add the eggs one at a time and beat in, then add the extracts and stir to combine.Sift in the flour and salt and stir through.Add the sprinkles and stir these through then transfer the batter to the prepared pan.Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges have browned slightly and a toothpick comes out clean from the centre.Allow to cool completely in the pan.Make the buttercream by beating the goats butter, clear vanilla and icing sugar together. Add the milk and beat this through.Spread this all over the top of the cake when cool, still in the pan.Add more sprinkles then refrigerate to let the buttercream firm up.Cut into bars and keep refrigerated if waiting to enjoy these at a later date.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 24 bars approx.

birthday cake bars funfetti sprinkles vanilla almond flavoured cake cut into individual servings

I am entering this bright rainbow infused treat into this month's Treat Petite as I think it's 'Fit for a Queen' what with Gay Pride this month. The original recipe states that these are bars and not a big cake, so it fits into Treat Petite (honest!).

Monday, 6 June 2016

I Can't Believe It's Not Caramel

dates coconut oil vanilla extract and maple sugar blended to make a healthy alternative to caramel sauce

In my quest for healthier alternative sweet treats, I wondered what I could spoon over my frozen yoghurt at the weekend.

I love caramel sauce, but as we all know, this contains a lot of cream, butter and sugar. As I’m trying to be good, I thought I would try and knock up a more virtuous version to slather over my dessert.

I cast my mind back to a recipe I did a couple of years ago for raw coconut fudge. This was a ‘fudge’ made from dates, coconut and vanilla extract. It tastes just like toffee.

I wondered if using similar ingredients in different proportions would taste as good?

dates coconut oil vanilla extract and maple sugar blended to make a healthy alternative to caramel sauce

I popped dates, coconut oil, vanilla extract and water in my Optimum 9400 from Froothie – such a cracking blender – and whizzed it up until it was smooth.

This took no time at all and when I took the lid off, it smelt amazingly divine!

dates coconut oil vanilla extract and maple sugar blended to make a healthy alternative to caramel sauce

I did sieve the sauce as I wanted it to be as smooth as I could possibly get it. I tried a little spoonful and decided that a teaspoon of something would be needed just to give it that extra sweet shot. Instead of going for granulated sugar, I opted for a teaspoon of maple sugar which I had in the cupboard. You could use a teaspoon of maple syrup instead or even honey or agave nectar.

I transferred the sauce to a small bowl and popped it in the fridge. As it chilled it thickened slightly and took on the texture and consistency of caramel.

dates coconut oil vanilla extract and maple sugar blended to make a healthy alternative to caramel sauce

I spooned mine over my frozen yoghurt and it tasted so indulgent!

dates coconut oil vanilla extract and maple sugar blended to make a healthy alternative to caramel sauce

Okay, this is not caramel sauce, but I think as a healthy alternative this sauce is delicious. The addition of the vanilla extract really changes this from blended dates to something more dessert like.

Why not try adding some salt for a take on salted caramel sauce as well?

Here’s how I made it…

print recipe

Healthy Alternative Caramel Style Sauce
Blended dates, coconut oil and vanilla make this surprisingly healthy alternative to caramel sauce.
  • 200 grams pitted dates
  • 150-200 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple sugar (or syrup)
In a blender place the dates, 150 ml of water, the coconut oil and vanilla extract. Blitz until smooth and add some more water if it looks too thick.Strain the contents of the blender through a sieve and add some maple sugar or syrup to taste.Transfer to a small bowl or jar and refrigerate for a couple of hours to let it thicken slightly.Enjoy spooned over a bowl of frozen yoghurt, or straight from the bowl with a spoon!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 small bowl

dates coconut oil vanilla extract and maple sugar blended to make a healthy alternative to caramel sauce

Disclosure Statement: I received the Optimum 9400 free to review and make recipes with.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Spicy Beef Tortilla Pizza

tortillas used as pizza bases topped with spicy beef, veg and cheeses

I really am in a more savoury mood these days. My sweet-tooth is taking a bit of a back seat. That doesn’t mean I can’t still be creative in the kitchen.

This recipe was inspired by some recipes that I came across for tortilla pizzas. Essentially a flour tortilla used as the base for ingredients you would find on a regular pizza.

If you like your pizzas thin and crispy then this is one for you. When baked in the oven, the edges of the tortilla go all crispy and toasty and the ingredients cook very quickly – only around 7 to 8 minutes in a 200C oven.

I made a spicy beef topping for the pizza, simply browning some lean steak mince beef, adding a couple of generous squirts of tomato puree, a generous squirt of sriracha sauce (the spicy part) and grated in a clove of garlic. This took less than 20 minutes to cook, in which time you can get your oven pre-heated and your tortilla bases prepped.

I added another generous squirt of tomato puree to each of the tortillas and spread this out leaving a gap at the edges, as you would a regular pizza.

I then spooned the spicy beef over the tomato puree bases, added some frozen chopped onions and peppers which I had in the freezer, tore up some fresh mozzarella, scattering this over the top along with some shavings of parmesan,

Quickly into the oven and 7 to 8 minutes later you have piping hot tortilla pizzas. I scattered some fresh peppery rocket leaves over the top of each pizza and squirted over more hot sauce to finish and that was that.

tortillas used as pizza bases topped with spicy beef, veg and cheeses

This is such a quick and easy meal to make. The spicy beef could be made in advance, making this an even quicker recipe.

Go grab some tortillas now!

print recipe

Spicy Beef Tortilla Pizza
Tortillas used as pizza bases and topped with spicy beef
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 250 grams lean steak minced beef
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 6 heaping tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha (or more if you like it really hot)
  • Assorted frozen veg
  • 1 small ball fresh mozzarella
  • A few parmesan shavings
  • To garnish rocket leaves
In a saucepan, brown the steak mince with 50 ml of water and add two tablespoons of tomato puree and the sriracha once browned.Grate in the clove of garlic and turn the heat down to let the mince slowly simmer and absorb the liquid.Pre-heat the oven to 200C.Take the tortillas and place on baking sheets. Top each one with a tablespoon of tomato and spread with a knife, leaving a border around the edge.Spoon the spicy beef over equally over each tortilla, then top with as little or as much veg as you like.Add the mozzarella and parmesan to each pizza and place in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes.Once the cheese has melted and the edges have turned lightly brown, the pizzas are ready.Remove from the oven and place on your serving plates, scattering each pizza with lots of rocket leaves and a dish more sriracha sauce if so desired.Enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 individual pizzas

tortillas used as pizza bases topped with spicy beef, veg and cheeses

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Fit for a Queen! Treat Petite June 2016

Thanks to everyone who took part in May's picnic infused Treat Petite with Kat at The Baking Explorer. Check the round up now.

June is here and the sun is really shining - could we be in with another scorching summer like we had 40 years ago in 1976, as the newspapers keep saying? Probably not, but we can always dream...

June is also the continuation of the celebration of Queen Elizabeth the Second's 90th birthday which has sort of prompted the theme for Treat Petite this month...
Fit for a Queen! I'm thinking treat petites fit for a garden party, a 'posh' do, anything which you interpret as a royal inspired treat.


I'm also aware that not everyone shares enthusiasm for the Royal family, With that in mind, Treat Petite comes into two forms this month.

Gay Pride is also celebrated this month, so you can dig into your inner diva and bake something fit for a queen also!!

Rainbow bakes, unicorn inspired treats, anything as 'camp as Christmas' is game here.

Let your imagination run wild! We'd love to see your take on 'Fit for a Queen'...

Here's the guidelines...

1. Add your petite treat to the Linky Tool at the bottom of the current month's post by the 25th of the month, midnight at the latest

2. Post your bake onto your blog and link back to Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, stating who is hosting this month

3. Follow Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer blogs on Google+ (see sidebar links), if you haven't already.

4. If you tweet use #treatpetite and mention @MrCakeyboi and @BakingExplorer - we will retweet

5. Add the challenge logo to the post and 'Treat Petite' as a label to the post

6. Use any recipe as long as the source is noted

7. If you like, add your photo to the 'Treat Petite' Pinterest board (request access from me, Cakeyboi)

8. Feel free to enter old posts as long as you update the post and meet all the requirements above!