Ok, so maybe exercise isn’t all that bad for you…

I have just completed my 4th session with my personal trainer. Today we moved onto our outdoors stuff which consisted of a 60 second light jog, interspersed with a 90 second walk and I’m quite proud to say I didn’t keel over! All in all it was 6 minutes of jogging and 7 of fast paced walking but I did it!

Over the weekend it was my mum’s birthday meal (it’s actually her birthday today and I’m taking her out for the day) so regular readers of my blog will know we always cook a special meal for the birthday person, this weekend was no different.

As I’m trying to get a bit fitter I opted for a mezze board starter with a lie fat fruit roulade for dessert.

For the mezze board I made a feta cheese, cucumber, red onion and tomato salad with pastrami, prosciutto, humous (reduced fat), Mediterranean bread (from Tesco) and some fried halloumi. It wasn’t the healthiest option but was light and very tasty.

Excuse the poorly taken picture.

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For the dessert I followed this recipe to make a mango, passion fruit and raspberry roulade. it was beautifully light and I managed to roll it!

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So, I take back my statement about exercise, but not about baking! Happy days!

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Exercise is bad for you and baking isn’t. Fact.

In a desperate/enthusiastic attempt to get fit and tone up a little I decided to employ the services of my school’s PE teacher to help me to get fit and toned over the summer. I actually quite enjoy exercise, and I love going for walks and swimming but recently I’ve lost my enthusiasm to do these things. So paying someone to help me is the next best thing – plus he’s very good and knows what he’s doing!

Unfortunately, after my first session yesterday I now can’t walk up or down the stairs or sit down without it hurting. Yay for exercise! I decided to bake instead and my new victims were my husband’s new colleagues and my friend for her birthday. I decided on peanut butter cupcakes. I had to use a range of websites to convert from cups to grams and instead of buttermilk I added milk and then as I didn’t have peanut butter cups I used a chunk of dark chocolate and as splodge of peanut butter. For the frosting I mixed a tablespoon of reduced fat peanut butter with icing sugar and a splash of milk until it reached the required consistency. I then decorated with dinosaur sprinkles.

These were very sticky and didn’t feel too naughty!

Bank Holiday Feasts

It’s a bank holiday weekend here in the UK and although it’s half term for me, the extra day does feel a bit special.

We’ve just started to get our food shopping delivered so, this week, I planned a nice Saturday lunch. I ordered pastrami, turkey slices, Dutch maasdam cheese, lettuce and some sunflower seeded bread…

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We already had gherkins and mayonaise in the fridge. We then began to work on our New York deli style sandwich…

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Instead of gherkin mayo, this is mayo with sliced gherkins.

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Cheese! You couldn’t really taste this, so next time I’d go for 2 slices.
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Pastrami.
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East River Tennessee smoked turkey slices. These slices smelled and tasted beautiful.
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My sandwich! Served with some Phileas Fogg bubble chips.

My second make was meant to be a chocolate chip muffin cheesecake. Sadly, in my rush to order sandwich fillings I forgot the cream cheese. The events which followed were a sign of a well stocked kitchen, combined with someone desperate for cheesecake.
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I present to you… Yogurtcake.

Ingredients
300ml crème fraîche
100ml vanilla yogurt
250g chocolate digestives
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons (at least, add more for taste) of peanut butter
100g of chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of jam

The how to
1) Crush to biscuits into crumbs and add the mapke syrup.
2) Melt the butter in a saucepan gently and then pour into the biscuit crumbs and stir.
3) Pour/spoon the crumb mixture into an 8″ round cake tin and pat down.
4) Spoon in the jam and cover the base. Leave in the fridge while you create the next stage.
5) Stir the crème fraîche and yogurt together, add the peanut butter a spoonful at a time and stir until combined.
6) Shake in the chocolate chips and mix.
7) Pour this onto the base and put it back into the fridge.
8) I then decorated with strawberries for my sister and I and grapes for my strawberry hating husband.

It actually tasted pretty good!!
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Happy bank holiday weekend.

A lazy Sunday

We haven’t had a Sunday without plans in a long time. That’s why today has been such a treat. We got up late, had a lazy breakfast, a very laid back morning and then an afternoon of cooking preperation and the football. As a Liverpool fan I was very relieved with the final result!

We watched Sunday Brunch this morning and my husband, throughout the duration of the programme, changed his mind about what we could have for dinner about 6 times!! We finally settled on hom bao which had been featured on the show.

We followed this recipe for Hom Bao and then made our own gammon filling.

For the gammon
Ingredients
2 gammon rounds, cut into bite sized pieces
1 teaspoon of five spice
1 diced chilli
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
5 diced spring onions
1/2 chopped yellow pepper

The how to
1) Put the chopped gammon rounds, spice, honey and soy sauce into a bowl and stir, leave for 30 minutes.
2) Fry the gammon mixture and allow to cook for about 15 minutes until the gammon is almost cooked.
3) Add the peppers, chilli and spring onions and simmer for 15 minutes until the mixture has thickened.
4) Serve with the hom bao and some salad.

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The ingredient line-up.
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Kneading the dough.
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The peppers, chilli and spring onion.
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The gammon, spice and soy sauce.
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The hom bao ready to steam.
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Dinner!

The hom bao were really tasty, although having never tried them I’m not sure what they were meant to taste like!

Happy Sunday 🙂

A great Good Friday

Happy Good Friday! I hope everyone’s had a good one. The weather here has been pretty good which always makes me feel more productive.

My friend Holly came over today and we got our Easter bake on. I’d been meaning to make the cinnamon breakfast loaf since Monday, but a lack of eggs had prevented this…until today!

The following recipe comes forms The Great British Bake Off How to Turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers
Ingredients
500g strong white bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed sea salt flakes
2 tablespoons caster sugar
7g of fresh yeast or 15g dried yeast
125ml milk
50g butter
1 large, room temperature egg
125ml water

For the filling
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon plain or bread flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

The how to
1) Mix the flour, salt and sugar and then add the yeast according to the instructions (if dry) or with 7 tablespoons of milk if fresh.
2) Warm the milk with the water and the butter until the butter is melted.
3) Add the egg and beat with a fork.
4) Add to the flour mixture and work together with your hands.
5) Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes before leaving in a warm place, covered with cling film, for 1 hour.
6) Place baking parchment into the tin whilst waiting for the dough to increase in size.
7) Get the dough and punch it down before rolling it into a rectangle about 2cm thick and as wide as the length of the tin.
8) Brush the dough liberally with milk and sprinkle with the cinnamon mixture.
9) Roll up the dough and then pinch the seams together and place in the tin ensuring there are now open ends.
10) Place the tin with the dough into a bag and tie the ends, leave some air inside the bag and then place somewhere warm.
11) After about an hour, brush with more milk and bake at 180 for 35 minutes until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
12) Leave to cool and then serve toasted, as it is or with a little butter.
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The ingredients.

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Sieving the flour.

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About to knead the dough.

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Holly with our well kneaded dough.

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Cinnamon and milk.

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Into the tin.

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After the second rising.

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Just out of the oven.

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The inside.

We also made Creme Egg flapjacks using the following recipe Creme Egg Flapjacks

We used 10 large Creme Eggs and scooped the fondant out and spread it over the top of the cooled flapjack before pouring over the melted ‘shells’ of the Creme Eggs.

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The flapjack mixture.

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Just out of the oven.

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Scooping out the fondant.

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Spreading the fondant after about 10 seconds in the microwave to make it easier to spread.

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The finished product.

Have a very happy Easter weekend.

A day in the sun.

Another week day post! After a day exploring Devil’s Dyke near Brighton and then Brighton itself, I’m feeling exhausted and a little sunburnt!

Here are some of the photos;

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Devil’s Dyke is a 100m deep valley which legend has it was formed after the devil became angry about Sussex changing to a Christian county. In the valley itself you can find the devil’s burial place alongside his wife. Which if you walk around backwards, 7 times, holding your breath it is said you’ll summon the devil.

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Legend has it that the valley was formed so the devil could flood the county, however he was scared off by an old lady with a candle, a sieve and a cockeral.

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A well deserved pint of Doom Bar after a 2 mile walk.

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Brighton Pier.

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The sea!

Today’s post is actually about the simple peanut butter curry that we made once we got home though. So here it is;

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The ingredients
250g diced chicken
1 finely chopped onion
1 crushed clove of garlic
1 finely chopped red pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter
1 chicken stock cube
1 tablespoon of balti curry paste
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of double cream

The how to
1) Heat the oil in a saucepan and then add the onions and garlic and cook until softened.
2) Add the curry paste and then the chicken, stirring to ensure the chicken is cooked. This should take roughly 5-10 minutes and the chicken should be white.
3) Add the peanut butter, tomatoes and stock cube and stir well.
4) Add the pepper and simmer for 5 minutes before stirring in the cream.
5) We had ours with noodles and peshwari naan but you could serve with rice.

Great comfort food after an exhausting day!

An Easter Bake Off

Blogging during the week is always a treat and a sign that the holidays are here!

Today my oldest best friend and I decided to have a day in baking. We try to do something exciting each school break and today was no exception!  We were really busy and managed to produce macarons and some savoury crackers.

The following recipe is taken from The Great British Bake Off How to Turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers book.
Multi-seed savoury crackers
Ingredients
230g wholemeal flour
115g semolina
1/4 teaspoon crushed sea salt
55g sesame seeds
55g linseeds
55g pumpkin seeds (I managed to get seperate bags of each in Tesco)
1 tablespoon of runny honey
3 & 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (plus extra for rolling)
210ml of warm water

The how to
1) Put the flour, semolina and salt in a bowl and mix.
2) Grind the seeds roughly, a kind at a time and then add to the bowl and mix.
3) Whisk the honey and oil with the water and then stir into the dry mix.
4) Knead the mixture until the sides of the bowl come away clean. Cover with clingfilm and leave for 20 minutes.
5) Preheat the oven to 180°c.
6) Rub the worktop with a little oil and then split the mixture into 3 equal pieces. Roll them out one at a time so that it is roughly as thick as a credit card. Cut into rectangles.
7) Bake for around 16 minutes or until the crackers turn golden.

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Helen grinding the seeds.

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Weighing the seeds.

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The mix.

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Nom! The finished product!

We also made macarons (see previous posts for this recipe, or Google Mary Berry macaron recipe and find my previous post) following Mary Berry’s recipe. The only thing we did differently was dipping the macarons in the filling as it didn’t set!

These really worked and were a million times better than my attempts. Putting the almonds into a blender really helped!

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We put edible glitter on some – surprisingly these cooked better than the other tray!

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Half dipped macarons!

Now my hubby and I have plenty of picnic food for tomorrow’s adventure. I’m thinking brie and grapes to go with the crackers. My tummy is rumbling already!