My parents have got three apple trees in their garden. They’ve lived in their house since I was 5 so for me, autumn always means apples. I usually just make crumble, but when my dad brought round yet another bag of apples last week I decided to try something new. I fancied something with toffee or caramel, and after a quick Google I found this Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding recipe. It looked easy enough so I gave it a go! Read more
If you saw my post about the cake we made for Toby’s fourth birthday recently then you may have noticed me mention my fool proof sponge cake recipe. Well, I thought that sponge cake deserved a post all of its own. So here is my step-by-step guide to the perfect fool proof sponge cake, and if you are a seasoned baker then please forgive me if I am patronising you – I really wanted to go basic so that anyone can follow this recipe and get great results every time. Read more
This is a super easy cookie recipe. It’s adapted from this white chocolate and raspberry cookie recipe on the Carnation website.
White chocolate and cranberry cookie recipe
You will need (makes about 20 medium-sized cookies):
- 225g unsalted butter or baking spread (Stork)
- 225g castor sugar
- 170g tube condensed milk
- 380g self-raising flour (this is more than in the Carnation recipe – I find it makes better cookies)
- 300g white chocolate (you can use chocolate chips but I find using large bars is better)
- 150g dried cranberries
Pre-heat your oven to 170°C and cut grease proof paper to the size of your baking tray(s) Read more
It’s been a while since I blogged a recipe so I thought I share this one for roasted butternut squash with you. I first had this when my sister-in-law cooked it for me years ago and since then I’ve played about a bit with the stuffing – it’s one of those recipes that you can really adapt to use whatever you fancy (or whatever you have hanging around in the fridge which is what I usually do). The really great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to peel the butternut squash – and if you’ve ever tried to do that then you’ll appreciate what a bonus it is not having to do it!
We usually have this roasted butternut squash with salmon and broccoli but you could have it with anything really, or even as a vegetarian main course on its own.
You will need (serves 2):
- 1 butternut squash (I try to find a small squash, if you can only get a big one then I would maybe cut off some of the main fleshy part and use it for something else – butternut squash soup is delicious!)
- mushrooms (or any other vegetables you fancy – I sometimes add courgette too)
- cheese (you can use any kind of cheese really – feta is good, or something like Lancashire or Wensleydale that doesn’t really melt)
- cream cheese (again, it’s up to you whether you use this or not, something like roulé or Boursin would work well too)
- oil (I use garlic infused olive oil for flavour)
Pre-heat your oven to 200°
You will need the biggest, sharpest knife you can find for the next bit – and be careful!
First trim both ends of the butternut squash. This removes the stalk part from the top and gives you a flat base to stand the squash up.
Stand the squash upright then very carefully cut it in half length ways (this is why you need a big sharp knife).
Remove the seeds from both halves.
Use a smaller knife to make diagonal cuts through the flesh of the squash (but not the skin) so you get a criss-cross pattern as you can see in the photo. This helps the squash cook a bit quicker.
Rub oil all over the squash and place in a roasting dish in the oven.
Cooking time really depends on the size of your squash – for the one we had I put it in the oven for 50 minutes initial cooking. You want the squash to be soft after this initial cooking time so just leave it in until you can easily poke a knife in it!
While your squash is cooking you can prepare the filling. Chop the mushrooms (or whatever veg you are using into small chunks). Chop the cheese into small cubes. Mix the veg and cheese together – if you want to use cream cheese then mix this in too.
After your initial cooking time is up remove the squash from the oven and fill the hollow in each half with your veg and cheese mixture. Put back in the oven for another 20 minutes. If you are having your roasted butternut squash with fish then you could put your fish in a tin foil parcel and put it in the oven at this point too.
And that’s all there is to it. Serve with whatever you fancy.
This is a great dish for babies and toddlers too. If you are following babyled weaning then you could just give them a bit of everything – I usually avoid the skin of the squash but that’s about it. If you are doing more traditional weaning then you could always mash the fish and squash together or I’m sure you could even purée it if you wanted to.
Do let me know if you give it a try – and if you think of any other interesting ingredients you could use in the filling.
And if you like the look of this recipe why not Pin it for later?
We all have busy lives so who doesn’t love a quick dinner that can all be cooked together with minimal preparation and even less washing up!
This chicken and chorizo recipe is a regular in our house. Chicken and chorizo is a classic combination – in this recipe you can then add any vegetables of your choosing, stick it in the oven and you’re done!
You will need (serves two):
The other day we had some bananas hanging about that were a bit past their best and we didn’t have time to make a banana loaf which would be my usual use for them so we decided to whip up some banana and mango smoothies using our Nutribaby from Babymoov.
Toby loves to help in the kitchen and these smoothies were easy enough for him to get really involved in making them.
First he peeled the banana and broke it up into large pieces in the Nutribaby. Next the mango went in (we bought some pre-cut for ease).
On top of the fruit Toby put a couple of big dollops of Greek yogurt and topped it up with some milk. As we were making these smoothies for the kids we used full-fat yogurt and milk but you could easily substitute low-fat alternatives.
Once all the ingredients were in the blender jug of the Nutribaby we clicked on the lid and whizzed the whole lot up together.
I really like the fact that the blender won’t work unless both the jug and lid are fully clicked into place – hands up if you’ve started a blender without the lid on before and sprayed stuff all over the kitchen!
The only trouble we had making the smoothies was that Gabe really didn’t like the noise…
I’d picked up these cute glass milk bottles and paper straws on offer at the garden centre a few days before we made the smoothies. A word of warning though – those paper straws might look cool but they are pretty useless for a toddler and turned to mush in seconds!
And now for my last confession – Gabe had a try of the smoothie and pulled a bit of a face, but then he’s funny about his food anyway.
But unfortunately Toby also declared it ‘yucky’ and wouldn’t drink it either! I thought it was quite nice but I think the problem was that the mango wasn’t quite ripe enough so didn’t blend fully into the smoothie.
Anyway, in an effort to rescue the situation I made Toby another smoothie but I replaced the mango with a couple of spoons of chocolate Nesquik. The verdict? This one was yummy…
Don’t forget to Pin this post for later if you like it…
**Disclosure: We were sent the Nutribaby as a part of our role as Babymoov ambassadors. All opinions are my own.
I love to bake but I tend not to unless it is for some sort of event where I can give away most of what I’ve made – otherwise me and the Mr just end up eating the lot ourselves! Halloween isn’t a holiday I’ve ever really gone in for before but it seems I might have to in future with a wee one in the family. So this weekend when we were meeting up with the other babies (and parents) from our antenatal class I took the chance to make some Halloween cupcakes and I thought I’d share my easy cupcake recipe with you.
I’ve got a couple of basic sponge cake recipes that I use but I can never remember them off the top of my head so when I came across this foolproof recipe on Esther Walker’s blog I thought I’d give it a try. (On a side note; Esther is the wife of Giles Coren and I find her blog, Recipe Rifle, which includes not only recipes but also tales of her life with Giles and their two kids, absolutely hilarious. If you haven’t read it then you should).
The cupcake recipe
All you have to do to get the recipe to make either an 7 inch sandwich cake or about 12-14 cupcakes is weigh 2 eggs (I cracked them into a bowl and weighed them but Esther has said in a comment to her original post that you can weigh them in the shells). Whatever your eggs weigh is then the weight you use of butter (I did use butter this time but usually use Stork for baking), caster sugar and self-raising flour. I also added a teaspoon of baking powder and, because I wanted chocolate cakes, about 2 tablespoons of cocoa.
Esther says to ‘make the cakes in the normal way’ – so cream together butter and sugar, add the eggs then fold in the flour. I use a big bowl and an electric hand mixer – whisk the butter and sugar together then just chuck everything else in and give it a good mix. This seems to work fine. I’ve also made sponges just by throwing all the ingredients into a food processor and mixing well. All these methods seem to work so just take your pick really!
I then spooned the mixture into paper cases in a muffin tin (I actually used old-fashioned bun cases rather than the larger cupcake cases – do you remember when we just used to have buns?!). I put about 2 heaped teaspoons of mixture into each case and this made me 14 nicely domed cakes. I put them in the oven at 180 degrees (fan oven) and they took about 16 minutes to cook but I checked them every couple of minutes after they’d been in for 10 minutes. You can tell they’re done when the top starts to crack and they bounce back when pressed gently on top. If you’re making a sandwich cake it will start to come away from the sides of the tin when it’s done and if you really want to be sure a wooden skewer (a cocktail or kebab stick will do) will come out clean when stuck in the centre.
Once out of the oven try and get your cakes out of the tins and onto a cooling rack of some description as soon as you can. Then the important bit, which I have fallen foul of many times in my eagerness for a cake I can eat as soon as possible, is to wait for the cakes to cool completely before attempting any kind of decoration. If you don’t you’ll just end up with your icing or buttercream or whatever melting and sliding off the cake. Another tip is not to put cakes in paper cases into any sort of storage container (particularly plastic) before they are completely cold otherwise the paper cases will detach themselves from the cakes which doesn’t look very attractive.
I also followed Esther’s rather vague recipe for buttercream as this is something I’ve struggled to get right in the past. She recommends using half a packet of butter (125g) and then just adding sieved icing sugar until it is the taste and consistency is what you are looking for. I did find that to get it sugary enough, and not tasting of butter I had to use rather a lot of icing sugar. This in turn made it too stiff so I added a splash of milk to loosen it. I also added about half a teaspoon of vanilla extract just for a bit of taste. As far as colouring the butter cream goes I really wanted bright orange – I used Dr Oetker’s gel food colouring but a whole tube only gave me a very pale hint of orange. I then used a silicone piping bag with a star nozzle. I’m not very good at piping but as Esther says, it’s easier than it looks. Just start at the outside and work your way to the middle. I did cheat a bit with the last bit of decoration and just bought some Halloween wafer things from Tesco! I will add that after I’d put a generous amount of buttercream on each of my 14 cakes there was still quite a lot left, even after copious licking of the spoon! If was was making this again I’d maybe only use 100g of butter and I think there would still be plenty.
So there you go. A bit waffley for a recipe but sometimes I think it helps to have things explained in detail. Next time I write up a recipe I’ll try and take some photos as I go along as I know that can help if you aren’t entirely sure what you are doing.