Monday, 21 July 2014

Elvis Breakfast Sandwiches

I so wanted to call these breakfast sandwiches ‘Elvis’ McMuffins, but I think copyright might not have been on my side there.

I am doing a couple of breakfast recipes this week. No idea why, but it does happen to be my favourite meal of the day. Whenever we go on holiday, we never take breakfast in our hotel. I love the adventure of going out to try new places for breaking fast.

It can vary widely, depending on which country you are in. From a greasy fry-up – to waffles and maple syrup, I love how diverse the first meal of the day can be.

Personally, and you will not be shocked at this, but I prefer a sweet breakfast. Give me a stack of pancakes over a plate of sausages and fried bread any day.

But I decided to try and combine the two, inspired in part by the fast food chain's McMuffins and the sweet/savoury combo which reportedly was a favourite of Elvis Presley – the Banana, Peanut Butter and Bacon sarnie!

English Muffins are so overlooked when it comes to breakfast, unless of course you are buying food to go. Until I made this I can honestly say I have never bought them before. So I ventured into the supermarket and purchased some, plus all the fixings for these tremendous Elvis Breakfast Sandwiches (or Macky D Muffins)!

I don’t fry my bacon, but cover it with brown sugar and pepper and pop it in the oven to crisp up. So easy and less mess when you cover the tray underneath with a spot of foil or greaseproof paper.

Yield: 4 Breakfast Sandwiches

6 rashers of unsmoked bacon
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
Black Pepper
1 -2 bananas
Smooth Peanut Butter (I use reduced fat)
4 English Muffins

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a grill pan. Place the bacon on the grill pan, sprinkle with the sugar and grind some black pepper over the top.

Pop into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The edges will turn crispy and the sugar will have melted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool whilst you slice up the bananas and toast the split muffins.

Spread each half of the muffins with peanut butter and place the bananas on one half of muffin. Tear up the bacon into pieces and place onto the other half of muffin. Bring both sides together and press the muffin down.

That’s it! It really is quite easy and delicious for a breakfast treat. The sweet meatyness of the bacon goes well with the fruitiness of the banana and nuttiness of the PB! Enjoy.

And thanks to Dundee's new Brewdog craft beer pub for giving me the red basket which the sandwiches are housed in!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Viking Direct - More Than Just Paper Clips!

When I was recently asked if I would like to review the products of a company called Viking Direct I was initially a bit confused as they are primarily office supply stockists and I am a food blogger.

But when I saw their product range – I realised that they are more than just paper clips and tippex. Although their range of office supplies is impressive, they sell school supplies, furniture, and technology including TV’s and mobile phones plus they have a fantastic cook shop.

Being a food blogger the cook shop was the area that piqued my interest. I browsed through their impressive range of tableware, crockery, cutlery. They also had bakeware, cookware and appliances.

I chose to order a Tassimo coffee machine from Viking (priced at £99) and a selection of the Tassimo discs (£5.99 per pack) that can be purchased from their ‘Eating and Drinking’ section.

I was advised that the discs would be dispatched quickly and that the machine would follow on soon. I received the discs a couple of days later after a card was put through my door saying they had been left in a shop nearby (working 9 to 5, this happens a lot with deliveries, which is fine).

I waited about a week for the Tassimo to arrive. Then I got a knock on the door from the shop owner saying she had the coffee machine and had done for a few days. But no card was put through my door on this occasion.

I have to say that the service from Viking was friendly and efficient. But the delivery company they use has let them down a tad. The machine was marked as next day delivery and was dispatched by them quickly enough. Had the delivery people put a card through my door to say it was waiting for me, everything would have been fine.

So, I recommend Viking Direct and their vast product range, but not their delivery company. I have highlighted this to the company and they are to be looking into the matter.

As for the Tassimo coffee machine – I am loving it and feeling very perky after all my coffee!

Disclosure Statement: I received the coffee machine and discs free to review the company's services. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Banana Split Smoothie

bananas, strawberries, cherries, almond milk, smoothie

Yes, a Banana Split Smoothie, but we are not talking Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper or Snorky here!

courtesy of BBC
Remember the dessert based smoothies I made back at the start of the year? There was carrot cake, black forest, lemon meringue, apple pie and hummingbird.

These were all packed full of fruit, but gave a nod and a wink to the delicious cakes they were based on.
Well, I haven’t finished with smoothies yet.

Since getting my Optimum 9400 blender from Froothie, I am seriously becoming addicted to green smoothies, packed with fruit and spinach. But, I digress, I decided to try another dessert based one.

This Banana Split Smoothie contains bananas (obviously!), strawberries and cherries like you would find in a real Banana Split. I also added some almond milk to make it a little bit creamier.

bananas, strawberries, cherries, almond milk, smoothie

The cherries were frozen black cherries, which the blender whizzed up no problem. Whatever cherries you decide to use, remember to pit them. The Optimum 9400 would take care of the stones, but the smoothie might not be quite as tasty as you might have hoped.

I used cup measurements in this recipe. For smoothies, I find volume wins over weight. But if you don’t have cup measurement, pack a measuring jug full to the 250ml mark – that is one cup.

bananas, strawberries, cherries, almond milk, smoothie

To garnish the banana split smoothie, I frothed up some more almond milk and spooned this on top to ‘kinda’ look like cream. Not necessary, and neither are the sprinkles, but if making these for kids, always an option!

print recipe

Banana Split Smoothie
A rich fruity smoothie that tastes just like a Banana Split.
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup cherries
  • 1 cup almond milk
Place all of the ingredients in the blender and whizz up until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 large glasses

Monday, 14 July 2014

Cherry Banana Mini Pies

Did you know this Wednesday is a special day? Well, aside from it being my birthday(!) July 16th also happens to be National Cherry Day.

When I was sent a cherry pitter from the good people at OXOGood Grips, I knew exactly what I wanted to make with cherries.

shortcrust pies filled with cherries and banana

A delicious pie baked with the flavour of cherries AND bananas. It’s a flavour combo I’ve been thinking of for a while. I figured the sweetness of the cherries and bananas would make for a really sweet tangy pie.

Instead of one big pie, I decided to make individual pies instead. I used a large muffin pan which housed the individual pies perfectly. And I cheated – I admit, I used shop-bought short-crust pastry. If you want to make your own, grab the recipe here. But when time is tight, I always used pre-made pastry.

I had never used a cherry pitter before but found it very easy to use. Without one pitting the 200 grams of cherries I used would have been a nightmare. But pop a cherry into the gadget and you are done in no time at all. The pitter is also good for olives too btw.

I made a thick cherry pie filling and let it cool before adding banana as I didn’t want the banana to cook down before going into the oven.

I made a cute lattice top for the pies from the pastry which let the fruit juices bubble up to reveal the flavours going on inside. Here’s how I made them.

print recipe

Cherry Banana Mini Pies
Individual shortcrust pies, filled with a thick cherry and banana fruity filling.
  • 1 roll Shortcrust Pastry
  • 200 grams Pitted Cherries
  • 2 medium Bananas
  • 55 grams Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh lemon Juice
  • 2 tablespoons Cornflour
  • 100 ml Water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 tablespoon Milk
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar Crystals
Preheat the oven to 200c and grease four cups of a large muffin tin. Cut the pitted cherries into quarters and place in a large saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice, cornflour, water and almond extract. Bring the mix to the boil, stirring constantly then reduce and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile slice the banana in discs and quarter each disc. Remove the cherry mix from the heat and stir in the banana. Allow the mix to cool whilst you prepare the pie shells. Cut circles of pastry large enough to fill each muffin cup. Spoon the pie filling into each well, so that it is slightly heaping. Make the lattice topping by weaving strips of leftover pastry, the cutting out with a pastry cutter, the size of each muffin cup. Transfer the lattice top to each pie and press the top and the sides together slightly. Lastly wash the pastry tops with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar crystals. Place the pies into the oven for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before removing them from the muffin tray. Enjoy.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 mini pies

shortcrust pies filled with cherries and banana

And here are some other cherry recipes, from well-known bloggers, to get you inspired for National Cherry Day:

Kavey Eats: Homemade White Cherry Rum Liqueur
Maison Cupcake: Cherry Meringue Pie
Veggie Desserts: Black Forest Cherry Chocolate Avocado Mousse
Franglais Kitchen: Sour Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Food to Glow: Cherry Chocolate Clafoutis
The Botanical Baker: Cherry and Almond Muffins
Fab Food 4 All: Cherzipan Cake
Fuss Free Flavours: Black Cherry Syllabub

I'm entering this bake into this month's Biscuit Barrel Challenge, hosted by Laura over at I'd Much Rather Bake Than... The theme this month is In-Season Fruit, which cherries are! As these are mini pies they would fit, rather messily, into a biscuit barrel!

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

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Foodies Festival Edinburgh 2014 Ticket Giveaway

Do you have any plans for the weekend 9-10 August? If not, read on!

The brilliant Foodies Festival returns to Edinburgh for the 8th year on the weekend 8 – 10 August and I am excited to be giving away 5 pairs of tickets for the event, to be used either on the Saturday or Sunday. Here's more information about the festival;

 Foodies Festival, the UK’s largest celebration of food & drink returns to Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park on the 8th, 9th and 10th August for a weekend celebration of Scotland’s finest produce, international street food, and culinary masters.
 Having started as a small event in Edinburgh eight years ago, the festival has now grown into Scotland’s food and drink event of the summer, transforming Inverleith Park into a foodie paradise with over 200 artisan producers, pop-up restaurants, premium brands and the chance to watch your favorite chefs cooking live. 

Festival Director Sue Hitchen said… “Edinburgh is where it all started for Foodies Festival, so it’s a very special event for me and our team. This year we are delighted to be the official partner of the MasterChef Dining Bus, which offers our visitors a unique onboard dining experience with the contestants and winners from the series cooking onboard and serving visitors top-notch dishes from the purpose built kitchen. “

Top chefs joining the festival this summer include MasterChef the Professionals runners-up Adam Handling and Scott Davies, Great British Menu’s Jacqueline O’Donnell of The Sisters, Mark Greenaway of Bistro Moderne, TV Chef Tony Singh, The Pompadour by Galvin Head Chef Craig Sandle, CafĂ© St Honore’s Neil Forbes and Glasgow’s The Three Sisters bakers Gillan, Nichola and Linsey, all of whom will cook their signature dishes live in the Chefs’ Theatre while explaining how home cooks can prepare the same dishes for friends and family.’

I, personally, am excited about the new Chocolate, Bake and Preserves Theatre. It’s new this year and hosts top pastry chefs, chocolatiers and bakers. There is also a Chocolate, Baking and Preserves Village where you can buy sweet treats aplenty and gadgets too.

There is so much more at the event, so be sure to check out all the information at the Foodies Festival website.

Ticket Information

2014 Foodies Festivals tickets are now available from or by calling 0844 995 1111.

1-day adult ticket for Friday £10.00
1-day adult ticket Saturday or Sunday £12.00 (£10.00 concession)
3-day adult ticket £18.00 (£15.00 concession)
1-day VIP ticket £38.00 
(Friday VIP ticket £35)
Opening times: 10am until 6pm.

 To be in with a chance of winning a pair of adult tickets, simply leave a comment on this post, making sure to leave details of how I can contact you, if you are one of the lucky winners. The competition is open for two weeks, and closes at midnight on Saturday, 26 July. Winners will be selected by a random number generator.

The giveaway is open to UK residents only, over the age of 18.

Good luck, and I may see you there!

Disclosure Statement: I have not been paid to run this giveaway. I am receiving press passes to the event in remuneration.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Raw Coconut Fudge

This recipe for Raw Coconut Fudge is made using the fantastic Optimum 9400 blender (so much more than a blender) from Froothie.

Did you see my last post for Fresh Orange Slushies using it? This powerful beast can blend anything you set your mind to, I put in whole peeled oranges and ice to make a refreshing and healthy slushie, great for hot summer days.

This recipe I am sharing features on the Froothie TV YouTube channel and on there, they call them Jersey Caramels. But I have no idea what Jersey Caramels are. They sounded nice enough, so I decided to whip up a batch and to me they taste like coconut flavoured fudge. There are no bad fats or processed sugars in this recipe! This isn't raw cooking in it's truest sense but the ingredients can be swapped for proper 'raw' ones.

The only ingredients used are desiccated coconut, pitted dates, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. That’s it. With Just a couple of simple, natural ingredients you have a sweet treat which is a little bit more virtuous than regular fudge. And those with an aversion to dates - you don't even taste them - honestly!!

Dates do contain a lot of  natural sugar, so don’t be fooled into thinking you can scoff these like rice cakes!

The mix of coconut and dates is blended up no problem at all thanks to the high speed of the Optimum 9400. Plus its 6 stainless steel blades ensure nothing is left clinging to the bottom.

Here’s how to make them;

print recipe

Raw Coconut Fudge
Healthier fudge, made using raw ingredients of desiccated coconut and pitted dates.
  • 180 grams desiccated coconut
  • 84 grams pitted dates (about 7)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (alcohol free, if you have it)
  • pinch of salt
Line a loaf tin with clingfilm and leave overhang. Place the coconut into the blender and whizz until is fine and powdery. Take care not to over blend, as the oils will be released and you will get coconut butter. Add the dates, vanilla and salt and blitz until a solid ball forms which is not sticking to the sides of the jug. Transfer the mix into the loaf tin and dab any excess coconut oil away with some kitchen paper. Cover the mix with the clingfilm overhang and press down firmly with your fingers so the mix is tightly packed into the tin. Transfer to the fridge and allow to set up, for at least a couple of hours, if not overnight. Remove from the tin, remove the clingfilm and cut into squares. These last up to a week in the fridge, if you can resist them that long. They taste exactly like coconut flavour fudge, with the consistency of fudge also. Delicious!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 16 servings approx.

Adapted from Whole Foods Simply

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

Monday, 7 July 2014

Rhubarb and Custard Cookie Bars

cookie bars topped with rhubarb jam and a custard flavoured icing

These Rhubarb and Custard Cookie Bars were born after a neighbour of my mum’s handed in some fresh rhubarb from their garden. I had it in my kitchen for a few days, and I was intending to make it into some tasty jam. Which I would then add into these tasty bars inspired by those old school rhubarb and custard sweeties.

courtesy of
But alas, the rhubarb wasn’t that fresh and I had to dispose of it before I could use it. Thank goodness for ready-made supermarket rhubarb jam! The jam I used had ginger in it too, which was a nice addition, but not necessary for these bars, if you can get plain rhubarb.

cookie bars topped with rhubarb jam and a custard flavoured icing

 The base of these bars equals the cookie part, it’s a cookie dough baked into a flat 9”x9” pan. I spread jam over the base before I popped it into the oven. Then I made a thick custard flavoured icing – like I use in Nanaimo bars which I spread over the topped of the base when it had cooled.

cookie bars topped with rhubarb jam and a custard flavoured icing

The result was a tasty bar, crunchy on the bottom, tangy fruit in the middle and creamy sweetness on top. Here’s how I made them:

Yield: 25 squares approx.

Base Ingredients:
170 grams unsalted butter, softened
75 grams granulated sugar
175 grams plain flour
25 grams porridge oats
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
200 grams of rhubarb jam

80 grams unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons custard powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
375 grams icing sugar
3 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk)

Grease and line a 9”x9” pan with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180C.

In a bowl mix the butter and sugar for the base until light and creamy. Sift in the flour and mix through. Add the oats and mix these through also. Add some water if the mixture is quite dry, up to 1 tablespoon. Transfer to the pan and press evenly with your fingers so the cookie dough covers the base evenly. Spoon over the rhubarb and spread it evenly over the dough. 

Place into the oven for 15 minutes. The jam will bubble and the base will brown.
Remove from the oven and allow the base to cool completely.

Make the custard topping by mixing the butter with the custard powder, vanilla, icing sugar and milk, until smooth and spreadable.

Spread the topping evenly over the cooled base and place into the fridge to allow the topping to firm up, a couple of hours.
cookie bars topped with rhubarb jam and a custard flavoured icing

When firm, remove from the pan and cut into squares. Enjoy your rhubarb and custard cookie bars with a nice cuppa!

I am entering these into this month's Alphabakes, hosted alternately by Caroline at Caroline Makes and this month Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker. The letter is R and rhubarb begins with R!