Inspired by Nigella ‘Chop Chop Earl Grey Muffins’ (Batch Cooking my Work Breakfasts)

I decided to watch Saturday Kitchen Live today on BBC 1, a show I surprisingly don’t normally watch, and my watching it today has absolutely nothing to do with my crush on a certain TV chef.

One of the segments of the show featured the widely known Nigella Lawson who was making Chai Breakfast Muffins. This got me really excited as I was sure I had a packet of chai tea in the tea cupboard (I have a Tea cupboard, well, a hot drinks cupboard, how British am I?).

I didn’t.

BUT I did have an unopened packet of Earl Grey tea which is (wait for it) at least 18 months old, so it was probably time to use that up.

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Before this year I was so lacking in confidence with cooking that if I saw a chef making something on TV, no matter how thorough the demonstration I would not be able to copy the recipe and would probably fork out for the cook book.

Now I am brave.

My recipe is very similar to Nigella’s, I will show you mine, but bear in mind Nigella’s is probably far superior. Mine is cheaper.

INGREDIENTS

300ml Soya Milk (Or any milk, I don’t mind)

3 Earl Grey Tea Bags

1.5 Tsp Cinnamon

115ml Vegetable Oil plus extra for greasing

2 large eggs, as a personal choice my eggs are always free range

400g Plain Flour

2.5 Tsp Baking Powder

50g Mixed Dried Fruit

50g Almonds

100g Sugar

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METHOD

First thing first. Put your milk in a saucepan, open up the three tea bags and pour them into the milk and add the cinnamon. Cook over a very, very low heat and do not boil, just bring to bubbling stage.

Leave to cool/thicken.

Now the ‘chop chop’ bit. On a chopping board place your dried fruit and almonds. Using a nice long sharp knife (or if you have a fancy pants blade thing like Nigella did then use that) go up and down and along the nuts and fruit in a ‘see saw’ motion until everything is nicely chopped.

Weigh out the flour, sugar and baking powder and lightly mix together. Add the dried fruit and nuts.

Add 2 beaten eggs and the oil to the cooled milk mixture and mix.

Add the wet mixture to the dried ingredients and mix but don’t over mix. Remember, lumpy batter = light muffins.

Grease your muffin tray with oil and spoon in your mixture.

Cook for 20 minutes on Gas mark 5, or until a skewer comes out clean.

If you want to overload on sugar then have a muffin with a little maple syrup.

Chocolate ‘Weetabix’ Brownies

I think when you start living away from home as a young ‘professional’ (or un-professional in my case) you may go through a few teething problems when it comes to the food shopping.

If you are half curious about cooking and a bit of a foodie you may find you end up with exotic ingredients like flavoured oils and sake which you later give away on OLIO on the basis you had them for a year and never opened them. That’s one example. You may also find that the way you lived your life when living at home or University is different to the way you live now.

For instance I buy porridge oats and supermarket own brand weetabix in a belief that a normal person has cereals for breakfast, when really because I work in a different country to the one I live in (I live in Wales, I work in England) I barely have time in the morning to brush my hair, let alone have a breakfast. And usually at the weekends I go several hours of the morning just on coffee.

So that is why I had two boxes of ‘weetabix’ leftover from last summer.

One box I steadily worked my way through, and then became convinced I would use the other in good time so opened it up and decanted it into my cereal container.

I think that was around March.

It has been untouched since.

Luckily it was a good container and they weren’t even a little bit stale.

So inspired by a recipe that became so popular on the Money Saving Expert website forum it was given it’s own thread, here is my interpretation of weetabix brownies.

INGREDIENTS

4-6 Wheat biscuits (Brand leaders Weetabix are a bit bigger so you will only need 4 whereas own brand ones are usually smaller)

170g Butter/Margarine

115g Demerara Sugar

115g Self Raising Flour

2 tbsp of Cocoa Powder

100g Chocolate chips/Chocolate cut into chunks

1 egg

METHOD

Place the wheat biscuits in a food processor and reduce to crumbs, or do by hand.

Add the wheat biscuits to a mixing bowl, then add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips.

Melt the butter/margarine, beat the egg and then add both to the dry mix and combine. It may be fairly stiff or sticky depending on how many biscuits you used, but this is fine, just adjust the cooking times. I had a fairly stiff dough and they still softened up and were deliciously moist when out of the oven.

Place in a greased baking dish and cook for 20 minutes on Gas Mark 4

Try to entice the boy out of bed by telling him you made weetabix brownies. When he is very confused because he didn’t think we had weetabix remind him you did. Lie when he asks if they were out of date.

Banana, Date and Rum Bake

I am a Banana fiend. They are definitely my favourite fruit. They are versatile. They give you the get up and go in a breakfast smoothie, and they can also lull you off to sleep in a nice pudding.

As a Banana fiend, and you will know from my weekly financial reviews how often I buy bananas, I sometimes end up with too many that are going from yellow to brown very quickly and with worse spotted skin then me!

So as it was Zero Waste Week this week I was determined to use up the three way past their best bananas in my fruit bowl. I wasn’t allowed to buy new bananas until I did, and I have three whole freezer bags full of my previous abundance of bananas.

(I had so much planned for Zero Waste Week but not getting our new and shiny fibre optic broadband until this week meant I couldn’t blog what I wanted to in time. Boooo!)

I wouldn’t say I understand the rules of baking, and still often look up a general recipe beforehand for inspiration or to make sure I’m not going to do something crazy like the guy in the first week of GBBO, but I am confident now that as long as you don’t go too ‘renegade’ you’ll be fine.

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INGREDIENTS

Three very ripe Bananas, the sort a wasteful person would throw away.

50ml of Rum (Yum!)

50g of Dates

50g of Mixed Dried Fruit (but if you feel like 100g of dates or something else go for it)

120g of Butter/Margarine

100g Demerara Sugar

120g Self Raising Flour

1.5 Cups of Porridge Oats

As much Cinnamon as you like. 2 tspoons is reasonable. I am not reasonable. I like cinnamon (plus it’s good for you if you have PCOS, or ‘sort of’ do like me)

2 Eggs

Approx 2 Tablespoons of boiling water

METHOD

At least 30 minutes before you get your bake on chop the dates into small pieces and add the mixed dried fruit and cover with the rum (I will warn you, this is a generous portion size) and then add a little bit of boiling water to just cover the fruit and then leave to soften.

Do the washing up whilst you wait. Or, you know, don’t. I’m not the boss of you.

Melt the 120g butter/margarine in a bowl and mash in two of the three bananas. Add the flour, sugar, eggs, 1 cup of the porridge oats and cinnamon. Add the rum soaked dried dates and fruit-liquid as well.

Mix until you have a big sticky brown mess. Oooops. I just realised what that sounds like. Sorry.

Grease a square baking tray and add the bake mix, then cover with 1/2 cup of oats (this might be too much, so play it by ear) and chop the third banana into little pieces and add on top.

The great thing about cooking bananas is sometimes they go purple because of the reaction of the potassium in them.

Cook for 40-50 minutes on Gas Mark 4. I don’t know what this is on an electric oven.

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This will go really well with custard, toffee sauce or vanilla ice cream, or all three, though I have never done that, honest! Maybe 2 out of 3, and that ain’t bad.

 

When Life Hands You Lemons You Make…Flapjacks and Cookies

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Saturday was shopping day, as it is every week.

As it was the start of a new food shopping month I was going bold and stocking up.

I went to Holland and Barrett to re-stock on some vitamins I was running low on, and to buy a bulk load of stock powder. I had 2 coupons – one for £5 off a £20 shop and another for 20% off the highest price item. To my delight I was able to use both on the same transaction, but the 20% off coupon took me below £20 by 39p. I had to think fast.

Luckily there at the front counter was a 40p bag of reduced dried figs. I realised it was reduced to 40p when I left the shop because it was due to go out of date in 5 days time.

Now, you all know I’m a bit flexible with use by dates, and often end a recipe with something along the lines of ‘This is a great way to use up that jar of stuff that expired 2 years ago and has fur growing around it…’ but I decided that this would be an excuse to get my bake on.

I found a recipe on the BBC Good Food website for figgy flapjacks, and the only change I made was where they said use 150g of dried figs and 75g of another dried fruit I just used all 225g of dried figs. Plus I added mixed seeds and chia seeds.

Also on Saturday I had an online delivery from a major supermarket and sadly one of my jars of peanut butter had a broken lid.

I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away, but didn’t have anything to decant it into, so I decided the only logical things to do was to make peanut butter cookies.

You will need 1 x 340g jar of any peanut butter, 300g sugar and 2 eggs and about 1-1.5 cups of oats. Mix all together, spread out in little cookie shapes on a tray, cook for between 15-20 minutes until firm around the edge but soft in the middle and scoff.

 

Odds and Sods Flapjacks

I have eaten two chunks of this whilst still warm from the oven and I dare go one further from saying it is ‘edible’ to saying it is ‘delicious’.

It tastes a bit like the berry flavour Trek Bar, which at one point I was buying at least once a day.

It has banished so many items from my cupboard, there is actually a slither of space in there now.

Also it uses a secret ingredient.

Be prepared to be amazed/repulsed.

It contains…pureed banana peel (obviously no stalk or end bit).

Well, I do hate waste.

It is called the Odds and Sods Flapjack because it contains a little bit of everything. You can make up your own measurements of things.

INGREDIENTS

One ripe banana and banana peel cut into little chunks (cut off the stalk and end)

About 300g of oats (disclaimer-I used a 220g packet of pre-made crumble mix which was essentially oats and then topped up with more)

About 250g-300g of seeds and dried fruit, I used the last of my mixed seeds, some flax/linseeds, dried cranberries and 150g of dried mix fruit.

150g Frozen berries.

Honey (I used what was probably about 2 tablespoons)

Coconut Oil (about 1.5 tablespoons)

Peanut Butter (about 1.5 tablespoons)

METHOD

First up, measure out your frozen berries (my pack was bought last summer and has been untouched since then in the freezer) and place them in a pan with a little bit of water and put on a low heat to defrost/cook.

Place your dried fruit and seeds, particularly if you are using linseeds, in a food processor and pulse for a little bit just to give the linseeds a chance to lose their husk.

Pop the dried fruit, seeds and oats in a bowl.

Pop your banana and banana peel into the food processor and pulse into it is banana mush and add to the dried fruit, seeds and oats.

If your berries have defrosted add them to the bowl with all the other ingredients.

Add the coconut oil, peanut butter and honey to the saucepan you just had the berries in and melt together. It is ok to use either crunchy or smooth peanut butter. I used crunchy.

Once this has melted add to the bowl with all the other ingredients and give a good mix till it has all come together.

Pop in a baking pan/tray/dish covered in baking paper and pop in the oven at Gas Mark 5/190 degrees (thank you itsabakerslife 🙂 ) for about 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when you test it.

This recipe was adapted from about 3 separate suggestions in a book I got for my birthday that I love called ‘My Zero-Waste Kitchen’ which is a DK (Dorling Kindersley) book. They were the ones that told me banana peel is edible. This recipe is adapted from a fruity flapjack recipe they have that I kinda went freestyle on. I do feel this recipe is more mine then anyone elses, which is great, as it is only recently I feel like I am confident enough to make something on my own.

The book also suggests these flapjacks can be ‘cooked’ raw by placing them in a freezer and then a fridge.

People in my life had thought I was good at cooking but all it was really was that I could follow a recipe and end up with a similar end product to the one in the picture. Making something on your own, with your own recipe seemed like magic. I still can’t claim to know the rules of cooking/baking but I am getting there.

 

 

Decadent Chocolate Bites

Today I banished more items from the cupboard.

I feel bad for even calling this a recipe, as it is so simple.

INGREDIENTS

2 x 150g Bars of Tesco Dark Chocolate  (It’s about 75p per 150g bar)

Dried Cranberries (79p for 170g – Home Bargains, you only need a small amount)

Mixed Seeds (the bag I had in my cupboard that expired in January! Originally from Holland and Barrett, again a small amount)

METHOD

Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a bowl over a pan of boiling water on the hob, remember to make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Once it has all melted (and be careful to not over stir) pour into your mould.

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I used 12 silicon cupcake cases to make relatively equal (and therefore quite chunky) bites. You could use something like a giant mould and then once it has set break into rustic pieces with your hands. I have done that before.

Once your chocolate is in your mould sprinkle over the seeds and cranberries.

Pop in the fridge to set.

Try not to eat all at once. Just because you have a new job doesn’t mean you have to go over board.

Enjoy. x

The AAA Therapy Cake

Hi guys,

Today was a beautiful sunny day in the South West of England and South Wales, and I spent my morning at a Job Interview.

Naturally for someone who finds talking to their friend’s difficult enough at times, I find Job Interviews a wee bit scary and traumatic.

There was only one thing to do and that was bake my stress away.

This is probably why I am overweight.

Oh well.

The cake today was baked in order to use up two jars of apple sauce that were preventing my cupboard door from closing and had been for about 7 months ever since I first bought them.

I bought them to make a recipe called ‘Triple Apple Cake’ from a recipe book I have on my Kindle called ‘Insulin Resistance Diet Plan & Cookbook: 101 Vegan recipes’ by Patricia Karnowski which I bought in a panic one day when I was convinced I had PCOS. Turns out I only sort-of have it.

My recipe was ‘adapted’ from their recipe. In that it closely follows it and then I throw a whole bunch of things into the mix.

My recipe is crucially not Vegan, so if you want the vegan recipe I’ll explain where I deviated from the original recipe.

Also the recipe book uses Cups as measurements, so I have done similar. If you are adapting then make sure you check the measurements against liquid/dry.

THE AAA THERAPY CAKE

INGREDIENTS

(These ingredients all feature in the original recipe, but I used different amounts)

1 apple, sliced very thinly (you could use more, the original recipe uses three but my bowl was looking crowded)

1 Cup of dried apple rings cut into very small pieces.

1 1/2 Cups of apple sauce-here I used my two 185g jars of apple sauce which are from the Morrison’s Savers range as one jar equalled roughly 3/4 of a cup.

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 1/2 cups of oats – my oats were premixed with skimmed milk powder, which I do to make instant porridge ala Jack Monroe, this may or may not have had some factor on my end cake. I think you should be fine with just oats.

Vanilla – I used a very generous ‘splodge’ of vanilla bean paste

lots of cinnamon and a little bit of nutmeg. I personally think things can’t have enough cinnamon or vanilla and nutmeg, but use your own tastebuds.

THIS IS WHERE THE RECIPE DEVIATES

2 tablespoons of greek yoghurt

1 egg

1 cup of self raising flour

METHOD

Chop the apples (both dried and fresh)

Put all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Add the applesauce and the beaten egg and yoghurt. Mix until it all looks lumpy and sticky (this shouldn’t take too long)

Squish into a greased cake tin, I used a loose bottom big bad boy.

Put in the oven at gas mark 5 for about 40 minutes until you do the skewer test and it comes out clean.

Please don’t ask me what Gas Mark 5 is on a proper oven, I do not know 🙂

When it is ready try to contain your hunger and leave it to cool for 5 or so minutes on a wire rack. When it is still fairly warm cut yourself a piece, have a cup of tea, and add a squirt of that weird toffee sauce in your cupboard that you can’t even remember where it came from.

Take said cake into the living room where the Artist Boy is painting and say ‘Look! Whilst you were ‘creating’ so was I!’