Wednesday, June 22, 2016

WIAW Grains as Mains

My days always start off the same way with peanut butter and banana- this morning it was with a bagel. But I promise it gets more exciting from there.
At the weekend, we visited The Works (a bit of a random book store) and found the Grains as Mains book from Laura Agar Wilson. She was one of the first bloggers I followed so was keen to try out her recipes. We went for the chicken and paella dish which was as simple as chopping and putting it in the oven. The flavour was great and it was nice not having it with normal rice. I took some for leftovers for lunch with me and the flavour was even better!
For an afternoon snack I had chopped up fruit and topped it with some cherry yogurt.
Dinner came in the form of a pasta bake. I am moving soon so am wanting to use up the odds and ends in my cupboards so a variety of pastas went it. It had a slight hit of spice but was helped by the salad.
Dessert was a couple of chocolates from a box given to us at work.
What did you eat today?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Browning Banana Bread

At work, we have introduced a fruit bowl and throughout the week, I notice people steer clear of the bananas that are starting to spot. I think this is a perfect time to eat them, but it puts alot of people off. Rather than binning these perfectly good fruit, the sweetness works really well in banana bread. I have done a couple of other leftover banana bread recipes, but this one from Ruby Tandoh had an added splash of rum which was always going to be favourable for me. The cardamom pods also add another dimension of flavour that isn't in a lot of cakes and this is what makes a few of the Bake Off star's recipes interesting (see this caraway carrot cake)

125g unsalted butter, softened
110g agave nectar
2 medium bananas, well mashed
2 tablespoons rum or brandy
2 large eggs
190g plain flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
4 cardamom pods, seeds only, crushed
Glaze (optional)
25ml water
100g icing sugar
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4. Grease and line the loaf tin with baking parchment.

2 Cream the butter then stir in the agave nectar. Beat in the bananas and rum or brandy, then the eggs and a couple of tablespoons of the flour. Beat until smooth, but don’t worry if it looks a little curdled at this stage. Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, salt and cardamom in a separate bowl then add this to the wet mixture. Fold the ingredients together then stir lightly until fully combined.

3 Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. While the cake is in the oven, make the glaze: stir the water into the icing sugar, a teaspoonful at a time, until combined. Set aside.

4 Once the cake is done let it cool in its tin for 5 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack set over a tray (to catch any drips). Spoon the icing over the top of the cake while it’s still hot. The glaze will cover the top and run down the sides in thick rivulets, but will set to a cracked sugar crust as the cake cools.
As well as a perfect accompaniment with tea, these worked really well wrapped in cling film and used a sustenance whilst on a long walk.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

WIAW Yellow Sticker Meals

Monday was a day of cheap food that I had found the day before that was being reduced due to the date. This never bothers me as if I can eat it that day, I can always freeze it and use another day. I ate my normal peanut butter and banana but on a bagel this morning. I have also started enjoying sprinkling it with a bit of cinnamon for added taste
My lunch was a reduced soup found in a service station on the way home the previous night. It was just a plain veg soup that I added some reduced price cooked turkey and stuffing to. 
My afternoon snack was yogurt with mango. It didn't really go with the cherry flavour but eating them separately was fine.
And for dinner I picked up a reduced Chinese style chicken curry whilst doing a food shop. They were simple to cook and I just popped then on top of a pile of courgetti to add in some extra vegetables.
For dessert I have been enjoying melting chocolate and dipping nuts and dried fruit in. 
What did you eat this week? Do you ever find many bargains?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Cooking with Lurpak Infusions

Lurpak have recently introduced some new items to their range which can help make flavourful food quickly and easily. Their new flavour infusion range are a blend of Lurpak butter and rapeseed oil with added herbs and spices designed to complement a range of bread from around the world. The three different flavours which work well in many dishes include Chilli and Lime, Smoked Chipotle, and Sea salt and Pink peppercorn. The serving suggestion would of course include some item of bread, such as a Lamb kebab Pitta with Chilli and Lime spread, but I wanted to challenge the product by using it for different things.
My instant thought was quick and easy pasta dishes. I often make too much pasta to go with a sauce and therefore have some remaining plain pasta. I tried the Sea salt and Pink Peppercorn spread melted through some leftover plain pasta with some added vegetables. Not only did it stop the pasta from being dry, it also added a great flavour.
When I saw the Smoked Chipotle version, my thoughts went to Mexican food. As I was having a BBQ, I wanted to try it on some hot sweetcorn. I normally slather my sweet corn skewers with normal butter, but this flavoured spiced version gave it something special.
The Chilli and Lime was crying out to be paired with fish, and instead of just topping it with fish,  I stirred the butter through the cous cous to give it a little flavour. It has a slight kick which worked well with the subtle flavour of the carb and gave the dish a slight asian feel. I feel these would also work nicely through some noodles with leftover cooked meat and vegetables.

The new Lurpak Infusions are available Nationwide and are priced around £1.25 each.
Disclaimer: I was sent these products for review, but as always, opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

WIAW Stuffed Lunch Bagel

I had an early start again so grabbed a breakfast at lunch which was peanut butter and honey on rice cakes and topped with banana.
For lunch I found some reduced bagels and added in my own fillings. I used lettuce, cucumber, cheese and honey roasted ham with a mustard mayo. I toasted the bagel slightly to give a nice crunch to the outside whilst still having the great chewiness on the inside.
For dinner, I had leftover chilli which I made with the last of Linda McCartney's vegetarian burgers.
Dessert was a creation from Mary Berry. Her new range included a chocolate brownie which came with a chocolate sauce. I added some fresh strawberries and heated it up in the oven which maintained the lovely crispy top.

What did you eat this week?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mary Berry's Dessert Range

Mary Berry has gained the nickname 'Queen of Puddings' and after trying and testing many of her recipes including some muffins and banana bread. But now Mary has bought out her own range of desserts based on some original family recipes that everyone will love. Here, she speaks a little about the story behind the desserts.
1. What inspired you to create the new range of traditional puddings to share?
British Classic puddings are great for family occasions and I want to share my favourites.

2. Why do you think classic pudding recipes will always be popular?
These are the puddings that people love and remember.

3. Was there a reason that you chose to launch with the Belgian Chocolate Brownie Pudding and Luxury Summer Fruit Pudding?

I love brownies and this was a perfect excuse to make it into a pudding. Summer is my absolute favourite and there is no reason not to have it all year round.

4. Have you always had a sweet tooth? 
Its not about having a sweet tooth, I love to end a meal with something on the sweet side and these puddings are very tempting !

5. You mention that your mother was an inspiration for the new products, what was her favourite dessert and were you inspired to bake because of her? 
Mum loved Bread and Butter Pudding and hers was the best.

6. How does creating a ready made dessert recipe differ from creating a recipe for a book? 

They are all very similar but I make sure that only the best ingredients are used.

7. You’ve had a very busy start to 2016, are you looking forward to what’s coming up? 
I certainly am - more Great British Bake Off, my own programme, another book, life is good!

8. Do you manage to enjoy leisurely meals with your family? 
Yes definitely, the more often the better

I started with the Indulgent chocolate brownie with a white chocolate sauce. I cooked it in the oven which was recommended over the quick microwave option and it gave the top a nice and crispy texture while having a gooier inside. The sauce, however, has to be cooked and although it tasted super sweet when cold (and was strangely hard), became the perfect accompaniment when warmed. The dessert was very rich and the only disappointment was the packaging was actually a lot larger than the final brownie so the serving size was for about 4 people. I served it with some deliciously fresh strawberries which helped cut through the richness.
The other dessert, the luxury summer fruit pudding was a cold option. It suggested putting it in the freezer for about ten minutes before serving, and this, I think, is essential as it is quite soft. There are nice layers of bread soaked with flavoursome juices and whole berries. It is quite a tart dessert, so those with a sweet tooth, I would recommend eating it with some ice cream.
They are easy and simple desserts which can impress without any effort, and I feel even though they can be eaten all year round, the fruit pudding would work perfectly for after a summer barbeque, whilst the brownie is perfect served up on colder nights.
You can get these desserts from Tesco or Waitrose priced £3.50 each.

Disclaimer: I received these products for review, but as always, opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

WIAW Freezing Pizza Dough

As I didn't return home before an early trip to work, I made breakfast using the ingredients I had in the cupboard. I always like to keep some rice cakes and peanut butter in the cupboard, which I then topped with some sweet honey and banana.

I had to go out and find something for lunch, and thought I would try this tinned soup from Tesco. I find lentil soups nice and filling and always prefer ones which contain vegetables. This one was tasty, if not a little salty, but for 41p, I thought it was a bargain!
My afternoon snack was fruity after filling up the communal fruit bowl, which contained mango, peaches and grapes.
A while ago, I tried making some pizza dough from scratch, which recommended making a large batch and freezing whatever you don't need. After the final proove, I froze it in portioned balls to defrost at a later date. A few months later, after defrosting and rolling out, we topped with a variety of different flavours using the leftovers from the Bank Holiday BBQ. One was roasted leftover vegetables and cheese, one meatballs and onions, and my favourite, trout and salmon with cream cheese. The dough defrosted really well with a nice crispy outside and base.
I always find pizzas are a great way to use up any leftovers you have in the fridge, and this was great to use the dough as well.
I finished off the day with some chocolate.
What did you eat this bank holiday?