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Speculaas Bundt Cake...

 
 Speculaas is not entirely new to me and actually brings back very fond memories of travelling through Belgium with two of my favourite people in the world.
 
 
The  'Speculaas flavour' is becoming more and more popular and It's biscuit spread, Speculoos is even tipped off to be the next Nutella. The flavour is  based on a traditional shortcrust biscuit made around Christmas in the Netherlands and Belgium.        
 
 
The Speclaas spice I have used in this recipe is special and that's because of where it comes from, The Speculaas Spice Company.
Steven created this little taste of the Netherlands based on fond memories and old family recipes.

"The Vandotsch Speculaas is a spice mix of nine organic spices that delivers deliciously warm, sweet and spicy ‘layers’ of taste taking any simple cinnamon taste to another level. "  

It can be used in so many recipes, some of which you can actually pick up off their websites blog . I although tempted to try and bake the traditional biscuits, decided to bake a cake using this wonderful spice.


 

 

Ingredients

The cake
200g Butter
200g Sugar
200g Flour
1 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Speculaas Spice
4 eggs, beaten
 
Icing
1/2 Cup icing sugar
a little milk
1/2 tsp Speculaas spice
 
Method
1. Cream your butter and sugar together then add your eggs one by one, mixing between each one.
2. Mix in your dry ingredients until all combined.
3. Prepare a bundt tin and then poor in your cake mixture. Tap the tin against the counter to ake sure its even.
4.Bake in the oven at 170 until cooked through and your skewer comes out clean. About 30min. Leave to cool completely.
5. Remove cake from the tin and then prepare your icing. If I am honest when it comes to icing like this I just wing it as exact measurements can vary when it comes to 'your' favoured consistency. But once you have got your icing how you want it and its nice and dribbely...dribble over your cake in a arty way ;)
 
This cake is FABULOUS with a cup of tea.


This cake and spice is something I will make and use over again as its delicious and because it reminds me of travelling with friends and one of my favourite places to visit the Netherlands. Which funny enough is where I am off to in the morning...in an hour to be exact. Better get moving...
 
PLEASE make sure to get your hands on this delicious spice mix and of course share your recipe. Hope you all have a fabulous week and I will post more deliciousness when I am back.
 
you can purchase the spice here .
 
Recipe - mine

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice-Cream ...


I have been wanting to make some ice-cream for ages and have been trying to decide if I should make a healthy one or a totally indulgent one... Of course I went for the one full of delicious hip expanding goodness! BUT for all my SW followers and healthier fans I will include a healthy recipe option too. One that is dairy free and vegan friendly :)

Let's start with the naughty one...

 

Ingredients

1 can of condensed milk
1 tub of single cream
2 tbsp. peanut butter, I used manilife peanut butter
50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
 

Method

1. Pop all the ingredients into a bowl except the chocolate and mix together well.
2. Once mixed fold in the chocolate and then transfer into a freezer proof tub.
3. This is non churn ice-cream but I do recommend mixing it a little every hour so the peanuts and chocolate don't sit on the top.
4. In about 3 hours it should be ready to serve but you can leave it over night,just remove from the freezer a few minutes before serving.
 
my happy helper today... handy when it came to drippy ice-ream


This ice-ream is so deliciously creamy, peanutty and chocolately that you could eat the whole tub in one go. But try not to as it is rather sweet.
 
For a healthier version just freeze couple of bananas in chunks. Once frozen whiz up adding your peanut butter and a spoon of coco instead of chocolate. Its instant ice-cream for half the calories but still super yummy!!
 
 
What is your favourite ice-cream, and have you ever made your own?
 
recipe - mine
syns - ALLOT sorry, maybe something for treat night.

Pork with Satay Sauce...


Today I met a lovely fellow Redbourner Hayley, who introduced me to Manilife Peanut Butter. It's so amazingly peanutty and delicious that I just had to cook with it...literally straight away!:P I had planned to create a recipe for the blog today and things just fell right into place and gave me one scrumptious lunch! WIN WIN!


Before I tell you how to make this super scrummy Satay sauce I will tell you a bit about Manilife all natural crunchy Argentinian peanut butter.

Manilife is all natural peanut butter. 'No sugar, no palm oil just really really good nuts sourced straight from Argintina.'

Manilife is peanut butter at it's best. They roast a fresh batch of nuts every week in their London factory and those roasted nuts are the only thing used to make their peanut butter, absolutely nothing else is added.
They say 'Argentine nuts are naturally sweeter and with a fat profile akin to olive oil, naturally better for you as well. You’ll taste the difference.' and believe me you do!


Now let's get into the tasty stuff... well... recipe...

Ingredients

Satay Sauce
2 tbsp , crunchy Peanut Butter - I used Manilife .
2 tbsp, soya sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped - I used my own home grown chilli's!
1 tbsp sugar
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Coriander, roasted peanuts and chilli to garnish.

Pork
Soya Sauce
Pork loin, cut into strips - you can use chicken in this recipe if you don't like pork or even tofu if you are vegetarian.



Method

1. In a wok soften your onions, garlic and chili in the sesame oil.
2. Add your sugar, soya sauce and peanut butter and stir to combine. Then slowly add your coconut milk till you reach your desired consistency. At this point give it a little taste and add more soya sauce if not salty enough. You want a balance of sweet and savoury with a fiery kick.
3. For the pork just marinade in some soya sauce, place onto skewers and then grill until cooked through.
4. Serve straight away with a sprinkle of fresh coriander and chilli.

Satay sauce can be made beforehand and stored in the fridge.



And there you have it, a quick and easy recipe perfect for lunch, dinner, as a snack or even as an horderve at a party.

And for the peanut butter lovers out there if you haven't tried Manilife peanut butter before...what are you waiting for! It's vegan friendly, its delicious and its nothing but NUTS!

Buy it online for just £5 at www.mani-life.com.

recipe - my own

Dairy Free Pear and Honey Banana Bread...


Today it has rained all day making it a bit of a midweek duvet day watching films, the cooking channel and Come Dine With Me. In between watching all that and entertaining a slightly poorly toddler I decided to do some baking and thanks to a bunch of rather blackened bananas and no butter I ended up with a dairy free banana bread, a recipe I will use over and over again as it was super yummy and one that can be tweaked to your own taste or mood very easily.


Ingredients

Dry
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Wet
3 small/medium blackened bananas, mashed
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
a little water
Extra
I used 1 pear diced and brown sugar for added crunch but you could use raisins, pineapple, chocolate chips, what ever takes your fancy.


Method

1. Preheat your oven to 170 C. In a large bowl whisk your wet ingredients together. Holding back the water.
2. Once combined slowly add your dry ingredients and mix together using a spatula or wooden spoon.
3. Add your pear, or chosen extra, and fold in lightly. Sometimes coating it lightly in flour can help stop it sinking to the bottom. If the batter seems a bit thick you can add the water.
4. Once all mixed, spoon into a prepared loaf tin. I used a little coconut oil. I then sprinkled brown sugar on top.
5. Bake in the oven for 50 - 60 minutes. Once cooked leave to cool in the loaf tin for 10 or so minutes and then turn it out and leave to cool completely before slicing. Top Tip - make sure to use a bread knife.

 
To make my loaf look that little bit tastier I decorated it with a drizzle of honey, honey roasted pinenuts and little roses that I made using the skin of the banana's.
 
For the honey roasted pinenuts I just sprinkled some pinenuts on a baking tray and drizzled them with honey. I then popped them in a hot oven for a few minutes making sure to keep and eye on them so they don't burn. I then left them to cool. Once cooled I scraped them off the baking tray,  this brakes them up slightly but also leaves you with a few whole ones.
 

This banana bread comes out lovely and moist and to be honest would actually be amazing served warm with a glug of custard. A perfect rainy day blues cure, especially with a cup of tea or coffee.

Hope you are all having an amazing week so far.

Roasted Chicken & Tomatoes with Cracked Wheat...


I love finding new things to use in the kitchen and of course love making up recipes. Now I know cracked wheat isn't new and I have had it before but for some reason I have never really cooked it. But when looking for some ingredients on a budget and not feeling like couscous, decided to give it a go.

For those who don't know what Cracked Wheat is - 'Cracked Wheat is a wheat product made from whole raw wheat kernels which are crushed or cut into smaller pieces.'
I personally think it is very similar to couscous but with a earthier flavour and is super easy to cook. Like rice it's 2 cups to 1 (2 cups of water to 1 cup of CW) A great store cupboard item.

It's fabulously filling and has a great texture. Taking on flavour like couscous would.

I used Cracked Wheat in this recipe but you can of course use rice or couscous, all cooked basically the same way.



Ingredients

5 -6 Chicken Thighs
Fresh Thyme
Cherry Tomatoes
Courgettes, sliced
Kale
Cracked Wheat
Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper


Method

1. Brown your chicken thighs in a pan. Then transfer to a baking dish. Season, add your thyme and cherry tomatoes. Bake in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes depending on the size of the thighs. You want to make sure they are cooked through.
2. While the chicken is roasting get your cracked wheat on the go. Like rice, bring to the boil in the stock and then turn off the heat, cover and leave to steam and adsorb all the stock.
3. A few minutes before everything is ready to serve finely chop the kale and stir into the cracked wheat. It will cook in the heat. Then in another pan fry your sliced courgettes in a little salt, pepper and frylight.
4. Serve the chicken in a large serving dish with the cracked wheat underneath and top with the roasted tomatoes and courgettes. You want all the flavours of the chicken and vegetables to seep into the cracked wheat.


This is a lovely light dish and is actually really great cold the next day. Just pull any left over chicken off the bone and mix in with the left over cracked wheat and vegetables.

recipe - mine
Syns - free if skin is removed.

Tappas anyone - Mexican range by Crofton by Aldi...



As a food blogger and lover of entertaining collecting amazing dishes, serving plates etc. is something that has become a bit of an obsession. The dream is Ina Gartens Kitchen and if you know who that is you know what a mean. She is prepared for every theme and every occasion and has a kitchen you would never want to leave. It is a foodie and wanabe food photographers dream.

Now if you not Ina or a professional foodie on tele this obsession can be expensive but if done the way I do it, by hitting the supermarkets and charity shops, you can feed your habit without breaking the bank.


Places like ASDA, Sainsbury's and Aldi can sell some really amazing things without a huge price tag, especially when they are coming to the end as that is when they go on sale. And charity shops, especially where I live can be goldmines. My favourite has to be Aldi though. They have 'themed months' which is  fun and great for blogging! But most importantly it is all really well priced and great quality.

My latest purchase was a few bits from their Mexican range.  They had all sorts from serving dishes, to jugs and even hotplates and all so brightly coloured. They were sold along side fajita kits and Mexican spices, basically giving you everything you could need to have a fabulous Mexican themed dinner party.


There was so much to choose from but I went for the items I would use most. I think all of this only came to £20! Which is amazing!! And to be honest although Aldi has a once its gone its gone policy you can still pick a few of the bits up and for half the price. You just have to dig :)


Again I will mention that the quality is great  and if you look after it, it  will see you through many the fiesta :) or other occasion.

And on a side note I will say... I will be first to admit I was a supermarket snob but ever since my first trip to Aldi I have never looked back. And that applies to groceries too.


Have you ever visited Aldi and picked up something fabulous for the kitchen or home?



Strawberry Fair - 2016...

 
This year we attended the Strawberry Fair which is a free family festival held on the common in Cambridge!
It's about an hour drive from us which made it super easy to get to and a great activity for the whole family with little expense.
 
 
 
The festival is a real treat for all the senses with food trucks full of yummy food, loads of stages with a range of amazing music as well as shops and activities for all ages!
 
 
 
There are even a few shows for all to enjoy! Benjis favourite was this 'flying duck'
 
 
And I added to my flower crown collection of course, just wish I bought more as they were only £5!
 
 
If you have never been I really recommend it as it is a lovely day out and as mentioned its FREE!!
My only tip is go as a group if driving as parking is quite tricky and hard to find. There is however a park and ride bus that will take you right to the common.
 
 
We have another 2 festivals coming up this year which I cant wait for!! Has anyone else been to any festivals this year?

Sweet Potato Cake with Honey and Cinnomon Icing...

 

 As I'm sure you all know by now sometimes I just feel like baking and today I had the urge to and not for cookies this time but cake and a good cake! One I hadn't made before.

Baking is one thing I really would love to do more but with me it can be a dangerous downward spiral when it comes to staying on plan (Slimming World) But everyone needs a treat once in awhile and baking cake is not only a treat for the tummy but a treat for the soul too. Creating something delicious and pretty from scratch is something that makes me smile from the inside and out, definitely worth the 25 syns a slice :/ ...whoops...I may have had 3...

This recipe is based on a carrot cake recipe and has a similar texture and taste.

Ingredients

2 cups mashed sweet potato
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
8 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. oil
2 cups light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
heaped tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
tsp. freshly grated ginger

icing - standard vanilla butter cream with a tbsp. honey and a tsp. cinnamon.



Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 and prepare two round cake tins. Then in a large bowl mix together your dry ingredients and set aside.
2. In another bowl cream together your sugar, butter, oil, vanilla, ginger and eggs. Beating in one egg at a time. hen mix in your sweet potato.
3. Add in the dry ingredients 1 1/3 at a time.


4. Once combined divide into your prepared cake tins and bake in the oven for 30 -35 min or until a skewer comes out clean. The smell from your oven is AMAZING!!
5. Leave to cool completely in the tins and then remove, even off the tops and ice.
6. Decorate with what ever you fancy. I used some pretty flowers from the garden. I was thinking of honeycomb but my attempt to make it was disastrous he he


This cake is perfect with a cup of tea and would be great at any occasion. You know it would even be nice warm with some cinnamon icecream and a drizzle of honey... omg drooling... next bbq, that's desert!
See what I mean...downward spiral lol...


And there you have it an urge for good cake fulfilled and shared. Hope you all had a fabulous weekend and are ready for a great week!

A cake so good you just go straight in, no hands needed ;)
recipe - mine
syns - 25 per slice ...SORRY!

Relax with Colour - Adult Colouring...


At the beginning of the year I wrote a 2016/New Year post and one of the things I wrote about was to be more creative and do more colouring as its something I really enjoy and something that really switches me off to the world around me. It gives me and my mind a moment of peace and a way to get lost in a world of colour, shapes and patterns.

Being a mum to a toddler, running my own business and having a mind that never stops finding, a moment to breath and refocus can be hard to come by but by giving myself even just 10 minutes, with the TV off, my phone out of reach and with some luck the boy asleep, I can really relax and take time to calm myself and my mind.
It's funny how in adult life we always turn to things that brought us joy as a child to bring us back down to earth and find a bit of peace.

Adult colouring isn't new I know and there are MANY obsessed people out there but if you are one of the few that hasn't found it yet I recommend you give it try. Here are some of the books I have picked up and the pens/markers/pencils I use along with them.


 The Art of Mindfulness: Relaxed and Focused Colouring -  Is a beautiful book full of wonderful patterns and pages that really excite the imagination especially, when colour is added.


 The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-stress art therapy for busy people -  This gorgeous little pocket sized (just under A5) book is my favourite and one that I take with me when I travel. I am not a big reader and find this is a great alternative while waiting in airports or even when beside the pool. The pages are made up of beautiful landscapes of patterns and really transports you into a calmer more peaceful world.


 Beautiful Patterns: Creative Colouring for Grown-ups -  This is a new addition to my collection. The pages again filled with wonderful bold patterns. This book is usually around £9.00 but I was lucky enough to pick it up in the Books for Children Store in Harpenden for just £1! If you live in this area and haven't been there yet...GO!! Its amazing!! I pick up a new book for Benji nearly every Tuesday when I am in town.


One thing that comes with an Adult Colouring obsession is an obsession with stationery and finding the right pen/marker/pencil. My favourites at the moment are  STABILO FinelinerPaper Mate Flair Pens and WH Smiths Water Colour pencils. But to be honest when ever I see a deal I am tempted to get some new ones. You can never have enough he he . Wilko is also great for markers and pens.


Are you a fan of Adult Colouring? What books are your favourite list at the moment?