Thursday, 26 November 2015

PB and Bacon Dog Biscuits for Humf

peanut butter and bacon dog biscuits

We would love to have a dog. Honestly, we just love them. And if we were lucky enough to have one, we would choose a golden cocker spaniel.

But, due to the hours we work, we would never have time to spend with the pooch. So maybe one day we will, but for now we 'doggy-stalk'.

We follow cute dogs who have their own Twitter account and go ‘awwwwww’ at the pictures they post (very clever animals!).

Our favourite is Humf the Cocker, a 5 year old golden cocker spaniel with the cutest face ever. We love seeing him wait on his chicky wicky at the weekends and having woogles on the duvet! Check his Twitter account out and I guarantee you will fall in love with him.

I decided I wanted to make some dog biscuits for a change and send some to Humf after he sent Disneyboi a birthday message via Twitter recently.

I used a recipe from one of my favourite baking blogs – Sally’s Baking Addiction – for peanut butter and bacon dog treats I did change things up slightly as I used almond milk.

peanut butter and bacon dog biscuits

In the original recipe, non-fat milk was used, but I was concerned using cow’s milk as I’d read this does not always agree with dogs, and I wouldn’t want to harm someone’s pet, so I went for almond milk instead. Also use  peanut butter which does not contain xylitol which can also be harmful to pooches.

The recipe made loads of cookies.  Of course it depends on what size of cookie cutter you use, but I got a least 50 star shaped cookies from my batch of cookie dough.

peanut butter and bacon dog biscuits

The recipe uses a lot of peanut butter and some bacon. This results in an amazing smelling kitchen.

As we had so many cookies, we also gave some to our friend Alison’s dog Poppy, another golden cocker spaniel. She loved them and did a cute wee party trick by balancing one on her nose, then flipping her it in the air and wolfing the biscuit down. When the bag was placed on the worktop, she was on her hind legs sniffing out more. A hit I would say!

Here’s how I made them;

print recipe

Peanut Butter and Bacon Dog Biscuits
Cookies for dogs!
  • 250 ml smooth peanut butter
  • 1 medium egg
  • 250 grams wholemeal flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 30 grams porridge oats
  • 3 rashers thick cut smoked bacon
  • 180 ml almond milk
Cook the bacon until golden and crisp. Allow to cool then cut into small pieces.In a bowl using a whisk, blend together the peanut butter, egg and almond milk.Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir this through until a dough forms.Mix in the bacon and oats so they are evenly distributed.Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a couple of cookie sheets with greaseproof paper.Roll the dough out to about a half a centimetre thick and cut out using your desired shape of cookie cutter.Place on the baking tray, quite close together as they do not spread.Place the full trays in the oven for 18 minutes, then remove, flip each biscuit over and cook again for 10 minutes.Allow to cool thoroughly before allowing your furry friend to chow down!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Lots!

Disclosure Statement: Photographs of Humf used with permission of his mum!

Monday, 23 November 2015

That's What I Call New 10 - Festive Edition

It’s a seasonal edition of my series ‘That’s What I Call New’ where I feature goodies I have been sent to try, and I have been enjoying lots of chocolates and a beer to share with you.

Firstly I was sent a sample of Bailey’s chocolate Christmas collections to try. This year, in most major retailers you will find a glittering array of delicious Bailey’s infused chocolates to enjoy.

You can find Baileys Glittering Collection Box priced at around £9 which contains five flavours including Baileys Original Coffee, Coffee Liquorice, Popping Candy and Hazelnut.

Baileys Shimmering Star contains Baileys infused milk chocolate truffles and retails in Tesco at around £5.

Lastly we have the Baileys Golden Christmas Tree, available in Debenhams and other leading retailers at around £22 contains milk chocolate truffles with creamy Baileys Irish Cream liqueur filling inside.

I loved my wee sample of the chocolates and any of the above are a perfect Christmas gift for friends with a penchant for Irish cream liqueur!

Next up I was sent a couple of boxes of Elizabeth Shaw chocolates to enjoy. Elizabeth Shaw chocolates are renowned for their quality, probably why there are one of Britains’s most loved luxury chocolate makers.

The first we tried was a Christmas Edition ChristmasCreations box. This contained 4 flavours – Dark Gingerbread Crisp, Milk Amaretto Neapolitan, Smooth Orange Crème and Dark Caramel Neapolitan. My hands down favourite was the smooth orange crème, I love my soft centres. Disneyboi loved the amaretto Neapolitan, which reminded him of his favourite latte! This Christmas Creations box is available from Tesco at around £5.99.

The Winter Warmers collection contains a boozy blast in each chocolate truffle. First we had the Milk Chocolate Amaretto, another favourite of Disneybois. In the box were also a dark chocolate cognac truffle, dark chocolate whisky truffle and my personal favourite a milk chocolate rum truffle. I love rum flavoured sweets at this time of year. This collection is available from ASDA stores at around £6.

Lastly I was sent some Eighty Shilling dark Cornish Ale from the Rebel Brewing Company to enjoy. This is a dark ale with a malt chocolate aroma, the taste of the beer had tones of treacle, brown sugar, coffee and raisins.

I really enjoyed this dark ale, (which arrived in a box set containing two bottles and a branded pint glass.) The beer deserved the Supreme Champion Beer award it won recently at the Falmouth Beer Festival. The beer would pair well with any of the chocolates above, perfect for some seasonal indulgence.

Pop over to the Rebel Brewing Company’s website where you can join the Rebel Club and get up to 10% off their beers and other goodies.

That’s my round-up for now. I hope it’s provided you with some sweet, boozy inspiration for the festive season. What will be your tipple be I wonder?

Disclosure Statement: I received each of the items free to sample and was not expected to write a positive review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow

sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow

I’ve been using my Multi Cooker from Redmond again. It’s an  RMC-M4502E model which has many, many uses in the kitchen. I’ve previously fried mini churros in it, baked bread and a cake in it, as well as cooking a vegetable stew in the Multi Cooker too. It’s so versatile and can do almost anything.

It looks like a slow cooker but is so much more. Check it’s functions in the image below.

I like to try different things in the Multi Cooker and this time I decided to make some cupcakes. The bowl of the Multi Cooker holds 6 large cupcake cases comfortably, so it’s perfect for making a small batch of cupcakes in one go.

I decided to make a seasonal treat, sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow. My inspiration for this was seeing Thanksgiving tables in America with bowls of sweet potato topped with mallows. This is a sweet savoury combo dish which can be found aside turkey, stuffing and the like.

This is pretty much like using pumpkin in a recipe, instead I roasted my sweet potato for one hour in the oven at 220 C, before mashing it up, letting it cool and using it in the cupcake batter. I added lots of spices and evaporated milk, to make the cupcakes flavourful and creamy.

I preheated the Multi Cooker briefly then placed the cupcake liners in the bowl after about 5 minutes. I found it best to transfer the batter to a piping bag to get it into the cases once they were in the bowl. I filled them three quarters full and clicked the lid shut and left them for 25 minutes.

sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow

After the baking time was up, I opened the lid to find the cupcakes had puffed up and resulted in a baker’s kiss – where they all touch each other slightly. I turned off the Multi Cooker and let it cool slightly before removing the cupcakes and transferring them to a cooling rack. The bowl of the Multi Cooker was completely clean, but I just took a cloth and gave it a wipe anyway.

For the topping of these cupcakes I made a simple buttercream from butter, icing sugar and vanilla and spread this on top of the cooled cupcakes. I then used this as a glue for the mini marshmallows. With them stuck in place I took my kitchen blowtorch and ran this over the top of the cupcakes until they bubbled and caramelised slightly.

sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow

The cupcakes were very tender, light and moist. The flavour was so good, full of seasonal spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. The toasted marshmallow topping finished things off perfectly.

Just goes to show that a Redmond RMC-M4502E Multi Cooker can do just about anything in the kitchen – even make cupcakes!!

Here’s how I made them:

print recipe

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallows
Cupcakes made with sweet potato and lots of spices. Topped with toasted mini mallows.
  • 80 grams divided unsalted butter, softened
  • 150 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 130 grams mashed sweet potato
  • 100 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60 ml evaporated milk
  • 150 grams icing sugar
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
Sift together the flour, baking powder, spices, bicarb and salt in a bowl and set aside.In another bowl cream together 55 grams of the butter and the brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and stir this through.Add the sweet potato and evaporated milk blending these through.Fold in the dry ingredients until combined and no dry ingredients can be seen.Turn the Multi Cooker on, setting it to bake for 30 minutes. After 5 minutes, open the lid and place in the cupcake liners.Fill each cupcake liner three quarters full with the batter, using a spoon or piping bag.Close the lid of the Multi Cooker and allow to cook for the remaining 25 minutes.Open the lid at the end and allow to cool slightly before removing the cupcakes to a cooling rack and allowing them to cool fully.Make a simple buttercream from the remaining butter, icing sugar and vanilla. Spread this on top of each cupcake before sticking mini marshmallows all over the top.Either with a kitchen blowtorch or under a grill, toast the mallows until they are bubbly and golden brown.Enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 cupcakes

I am entering these cupcakes into this month's Treat Petite - hosted this month by Kat, The Baking Explorer. The theme is Autumn and I think these are a very autumnal bake!

I'm also entering these into this month's Alphabakes hosted alternately by Caroline at Caroline Makes and this month Ros, The More Than Occasional Baker. The letter this month is M and I've used marshmallows in the recipe!

Disclosure Statement: This is a sponsored post which contains affiliate links. I have been paid to create this recipe and was sent the multicooker free to use. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Coconut and Strawberry Cookies

coconut and strawberry cookies

Coconut is all the rage at the moment – and with good reason. It has many nutritional benefits, especially coconut oil.

When Coconut Merchant asked if I would like to sample some of their products I said yes immediately.  Coconut Merchant sell coconut in different variants – coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut sugar, even jams and syrups. When my package arrived I was surprised, and thrilled, at the produce I was sent to try.

I love the baked coconut chips – little crisp pieces of coconut flesh which taste so buttery. These are good on their own, but would be great piled on top of some cupcakes.

I decided to make some coconut and strawberry cookies with my stash. These contain the coconut flour, so are gluten-free. They also have coconut syrup instead of sugar, so no nasty refined sugars going on. The syrup is thick and dark in colour so added a rich brown tone to the cookie batter. And I used healthy coconut oil for the fat. The strawberries I used were freeze dried ones I bought online, but pieces of real strawbs would work too.

coconut and strawberry cookies

I used a recipe based on one I had seen over at Detoxinista. She made chocolate chip cookies in her recipe. She does explain, thankfully that the batter starts off quite wet, but if you let it sit, the coconut flour absorbs the moisture (as do the freeze dried strawberries). She also mentioned that the cookies don’t change shape in the oven, so I wet my fingers and squashed them down a bit, into cookie shapes.

coconut and strawberry cookies

I did leave mine a little too long in the oven, so they were a bit 'caramelised' on the outside. But they tasted great nonetheless. Disneyboi particularly liked the coconut flavour, so I shall pack a few in his lunchbox this week!

coconut and strawberry cookies

Here’s how I made them…

print recipe

Coconut and Strawberry Cookies
Healthier cookies made from coconut products and freeze dried strawberries
  • 40 grams coconut flour
  • 60 ml coconut oil, melted
  • 60 ml coconut syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 10 grams freeze dried strawberries
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a cookie sheet with greaseproof paper.Combine the flour, melted oil, syrup, vanilla and salt in a bowl.Crack the eggs into the bowl and mix through.Add the freeze dried strawberries and stir these through also.Let the mix sit for at least 10 minutes to let the moisture absorb.Take tablespoon amounts of the batter and place on the cookie sheet. Press down gently with damp fingers.Bake in the oven for 12 to 14 minutes, keeping an eye on them.Allow to cool slightly before enjoying!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 15 cookies approx.

coconut and strawberry cookies

Disclosure Statement: I was sent the products free from Coconut Merchant to review. I was not expected to create a recipe and any opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Lemon Meringue Pie Toastie

toastie that tastes like lemon meringue pie filled with biscuit spread, lemon curd and marshmallow creme

This is such an easy recipe, yet so tasty I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before!

I really have to thank Cheese Postie, from my recent post who deliver creative toasties like these through your letter box. I was sent a strawberry shortcake flavour cheese toastie, using cookie butter and strawberry jam, plus mascarpone. I loved the flavours and it got me to thinking.

What if I used cookie butter, AKA Biscoff, AKA Speculoos, lemon curd and marshmallowy fluffy stuff? Surely this would taste just like a lemon meringue pie? I had to find out…

toastie that tastes like lemon meringue pie filled with biscuit spread, lemon curd and marshmallow creme

I bought a loaf of white bread, and the above ingredients and started to assemble. I slathered one bit of bread with the Biscoff, one side with lemon curd and then spread the mallow crème on top of the biscoff.  I sandwiched the two bits of bread together and lightly coated the outsides of the bread with some butter.

toastie that tastes like lemon meringue pie filled with biscuit spread, lemon curd and marshmallow creme

At this point you could use a toastie machine, a panini press or as I did, one of those toaster bags. I popped my sandwich in the baggy and popped it in the toaster. Mines did catch a bit on one edge (think my toaster is on the fritz!),  but if using a toastie machine this won’t happen.

This resulting toastie has to be left for a minute or two, as the sugar contents do heat up to near-volcanic temperatures, but once it is an edible warmth, the taste is incredible. You get the biscuit base of the pie from the Biscoff, the lemon hit from the curd and the mallow meringue in the middle. Great fun to try and enjoy!

print recipe

Lemon Meringue Pie Toastie
A toasted sandwich that tastes like a Lemon Meringue Pie
  • 2 Slices bread (any type)
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Biscuit Spread (such as Biscoff)
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Lemon Curd
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Marshmallow Creme (such as Fluff)
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Butter (or other spread)
Spread one slice of bread with the biscuit spread.Spread the other slice of bread with the lemon curd.Spread the marshmallow crème on top of the biscuit spread and sandwich the two slices of bread together.Spread the outside of each side of the sandwich with the butter or spread.Place in a toaster bag and toast on medium setting, or place in a toastie machine.Remove once the outside of the sandwich is golden brown.Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing in half.Enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 sandwich

I am entering this toastie into this month’s Club Sandwich hosted alternately by myself and this month my pal Kevin at The Crafty Larder. If this inspires you, we’d love to see other crazy sarnie concoctions, so please join in!

Monday, 9 November 2015

The Hills Were Alive - Our Sound of Music Pilgrimage!

If you are a regular reader you will know that Disneyboi and I were recently on a trip to Salzburg in Austria. We had a lovely time which you can read about in my previous post.

In that post I alluded to the fact that we went to Salzburg partly because Disneyboi had a special birthday this year, which he shares with the film ‘The Sound of Music’ – let’s just say he is 'as old as the hills'! We are both fans of the movie and wanted to visit some of the locations which featured in the film. Here I want to share with you some of my 'favourite things' from the tour we went on.

One of the best ways to see the sights is by a bus tour, and Panorama Tours are the official Sound of Music Tour operators in the city. We booked with them for the Saturday morning of our visit and arrived bright and breezy with other 'Sound of Music' fans.

David was our tour guide, a cheery chap, full of interesting facts about the movie. We embarked on the pilgrimage to the first location.

First stop was to the side of a lake – looking at the rear of a building - Leopoldskron Palace, just minutes from the centre of Salzburg.  The building wasn’t too familiar, but the lake which we were in front of was. The scenes in the film overlooking the lake were filmed from the rear of this impressive building – now a hotel. But the building used as the Captain’s mansion was actually another building near Salzburg. Hollywood magic came into force here. We could just make out a small patio area from across the lake which is where the scenes were filmed (in the left-hand side of the picture above). It was very misty whilst we were there but the clouds broke not long after.

We got back on the tour bus which then took us a little further out of Salzburg to Hellbrunn Palace. If we had longer to stay in Salzburg, this is somewhere that we would have gone back to visit as it houses a zoo, water fountains and jets, secret grottos, a folklore museum and more. But our purpose was to see the gazebo which featured in the movie, most memorably from the ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’ song sung by Charmian Carr and Daniel Truhitte. Although the gazebo used was mostly on a soundstage in Hollywood, a replica was built in the Leopoldskron Palace grounds so it could be seen in the background of scenes.

The replica was moved to Hellbrunn Palace grounds in 1991 so fans could come to see it, as the grounds of Leopoldskron Palace are not for the general public. The gazebo was locked (apparently accidents involving dancing and feet going through panes of glass prompted this). It did look quite small and I’m sure the Hollywood one used for filming must have been a tad bigger!

We journeyed past the Captain’s house, seen in the movie which is now the Mozart Academy or Mozarteum, but unfortunately we couldn’t stop as the tour bus isn’t allowed to...

 Our next journey took us up the alps, through the hills and seemingly far away. The views on offer were stunning. We stopped by a lake which can apparently be seen in the opening sequence of the movie. The view literally took my breath away, the water in the lake was so blue and the little chalet type houses were lovely.

We got back on the bus which took us out to Mondsee, a small town which houses St. Michael’s Basilica – the church used in the wedding scene of the movie. Inside the church looked a lot smaller than it does in the movie – Hollywood trickery at play again. Stunning inside however.

In the gift shop there was a framed picture, signed by Dame Julie Andrews herself. 

 We had some time to wander in Mondsee and it was another moment when we wished we could have stayed a bit longer. 

The bus took us back into Salzburg and our final destination was Mirabell Gardens where a large part of 'Do-Re-Mi' is filmed. We saw the famous steps, the fountain, the statue of the dwarf and the trellis all seen in the movie. There was a wedding going on so things were very busy!

The tour was very good, and I would recommend it. It lasted 4 hours and the soundtrack was played on the bus so you could have a little sing song if you wished. However, due to the way Salzburg is set up, a lot isn’t accessible by tour bus, so Disneyboi and I found our own way to some other film locations by ourselves.

·         We visited the festival halls, one  of which is used in the contest at the end of the Sound of Music, where the family are singing 'So Long, Farewell' then escape the Nazi’s. The imposing stone arches built right into the Monschberg mountain are very memorable. These were outdoors at one point, but a roof has now been constructed over them.

·         We also walked up to the Nonnberg Abbey, which dates back to the mind-boggling 714AD. The abbey is featured in the movie partly inside and outside. The outside was quite recognisable from the scene where the children come to visit Maria when she returns to the abbey. Quite strange thinking the real Maria Von Trapp actually walked through these gates.

·         We took a lift up high, near the Musem of Modern Art, to Winkler Terrace, which also features sights in the movie and a stunning vista of Salzburg.

We also walked over the Mozart Bridge, which can be seen at the end of the Do-Re-Mi sequence.

·         We took the cable car up the Untersberg mountain which is a backdrop at the start of the Do-Re-Mi song. We were looking down to where the children and Maria were sitting in the film.

·    And we also went back to the Mozarteum which was Captain Von Trapp's house in the movie. Mozarteum is a university specialising in music and dramatic arts.

     Although we didn’t venture into the grounds, the outside and walk up to the house look no different to what they were like in the mid-60’s when 'The Sound of Music' was filmed.

·         And right next to the academy we saw a little herd of goats – although no lonely goatherder - a perfect way to finish off our little 'Sound of Music' pilgrimage!

·         That was how we 'do-re'-did it and if you go to Salzburg, I would thoroughly recommend Panorama Tours AND a little walking around the city on your own to find some of the hidden 'Sound of Music' gems!
      Time to say So Long, Farewell until next time...