Love is in the air….

This morning, we certainly all felt the love!!! As I was putting the finishing touches on to our ‘special’ breakfast, my kids couldn’t believe their luck when they saw these two plates this morning!!!! I know, I know….I honestly have never served up Chocolate Cupcakes for breakfast before, but I couldn’t resist these Aldi ones that I saw whilst out shopping yesterday!!! Adding a few Strawberries did make me feel a bit better….! Anyway, it was worth it. After the initial excitement, old habits die hard, they licked some of the icing off, ate the Strawberries and asked for Porridge!

I’m hoping to be back later today with the results of the special Valentines Days mini Pizzas. Bases at the ready…..

Valentines Mini Pizza base

Valentines day tomorrow…..now whilst I’m not mad hot on the day (but must admit I do like receiving flowers…), my kids are really into the Valentines spirit!!! Therefore, ahead of their Valentines day Disco after school tomorrow, we spent our down time this afternoon making some love heart shaped Pizza dough!!! Great fun had by all, with some very ‘funky’ looking dough shaped bases too!

Once finished, we popped them onto baking sheets and then into the freezer. We will finalise our creations after school tomorrow!!!

The super easy recipe is here>>

Valentines Mini Pizza base

Valentines day tomorrow…..now whilst I’m not mad hot on the day (but must admit I do like receiving flowers…), my kids are really into the Valentines spirit!!! Therefore, ahead of their Valentines day Disco after school tomorrow, we spent our down time this afternoon making some love heart shaped Pizza dough!!! Great fun had by all, with some very ‘funky’ looking dough shaped bases too!

Once finished, we popped them onto baking sheets and then into the freezer. We will finalise our creations after school tomorrow!!!

Chicken Casserole & Home-made bread rolls

After a busy morning doing various jobs and running around sorting out presents for up and coming birthdays… I had a little think about my kids coming out of school in a few hours and muttering the inevitable words… “what’s for dinner? We’re starving!” Hello to you too my cherubs, hope you’ve had a fab day 🙂

The quick and easy dinner I decided upon for the evening is left over roast chicken, red lentils and veg Casserole. All chucked into my trusted Casserole pot! This dinner, quite literally takes 5 minutes to prep, then is popped in the oven until the kids get home! Luckily for us, I had a little more time on my hands over lunch so did a search on Pinterest and found a quick and easy recipe for some home made bread rolls (see pinned recipe on our ‘Delicious Dinners’ board. I adapted the recipe slightly (omitting the sugar and salt), but they are still delicious!).

Enjoy – this is lip smacking and full of goodness for those hungry little tummies!

Casserole Ingredients:

Left over Roast Chicken (removed from Carcass)

1 cup of Red Lentils (Split)

5 Potatoes quartered (I like to keep this skin on, this is obviously optional)

1/2 Butternut Squash quartered and diced

1 Leek sliced

2 Garlic Cloves

Sprigs of Thyme

Sprinkle of Mixed Herbs

Sprinkle of Paprika

Casserole Method:

Preheat Oven to 170.C

Pop all of the above ingredients into a large casserole dish, cover with water and pop into the oven for 4/5 hours. Stir occasionally and top up with boiling water if required.

Meanwhile, time to make the bread rolls if you fancy them!

Bread Roll Ingredients:

1 Cup of warm water

1/3 Cup of Oil

1/4 Cup of Sugar (optional)

2 Tbls of Yeast

1/2 Tsp of Salt (optional)

1 Egg (Beaten)

1 Tbls of softened Butter

3/4 Cups of all purpose Flour (I used 3 cups)

Splash of Milk

Bread Roll Method:

In a large bowl, mix the water, oil, sugar (optional) and yeast together. Leave for about 8 mins until the mixture goes bubbly. Stir in the egg, butter and salt (optional).

Next, add one cup of Flour at a time, mixing either by hand or with a stand mixer. Mix until the dough is soft and no longer sticky. If kneading by hand, knead for 10 minutes (5 mins with a mixer).

Divide the dough mixture into 16 or 18 balls, place on a tray and cover with a tea towel. Leave in a warm place, preferably for at least 30 minutes.

15 minutes before you want to eat the Chicken Casserole, pop them in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 180.c

Bangers & Smashed Mash

So, whilst not meaning to offend hardcore traditional sausage and mash fans, here is my take (and tweak on Mary Berry’s dish – see our ‘tried’ board on Pinterest for the original recipe) on a midweek family favourite!! This is a winner for sure in our household and a fab way to get my children to try some different types of veg! It takes a few minutes to prep and really is a ‘chuck’ it all in dinner, with stacks of flavour. Perfect for these miserable Winter nights, when time is of the essence and the taste buds need a treat!

Recipe for a family of 4/5. Minimum fuss, maximum taste.

Ingredients:

8 – 10 Sausages of choice

4 – 6 Medium Potatoes (I tend to use Maris Piper)

1 Medium Courgette

1 Medium Onion (White or Red)

1 Red Pepper

1 Bulb of Garlic

Handful of frozen Peas

Drizzle of Honey

25g Butter (salted/unsalted – your choice)

A generous sprinkle of Mixed Herbs

Splash of milk – for the Mash

2 tbls of Olive Oil

Method:

Preheat the Oven to 180.c

Start off by quartering the Potatoes (I like to keep the skin on to get the nutritional benefits, but of course, this comes down to preference), cover with water and put them on to a slow boil. Next, thinly slice the Courgette, Onion and Red Pepper. Halve the Garlic.

Chuck them into a baking dish, along with the Sausages and drizzle with the Olive Oil. Sprinkle on the Mixed Herbs and give all of the ingredients a good toss, topping off with the Honey. Season as preferred.

Place the dish into a preheated Oven (180.C) and cook for 40-45 minutes, turning the Sausages occasionally.

After 40 minutes, add the frozen peas to the boiling potatoes. After 5 minutes, drain well. Add the butter (if desired) & Milk to the potatoes and peas, season and then give everything a bit of a bash.

Take the Sausages out of the oven and plate up. Drizzle the flavoursome honey, herby mixture over the mash. Enjoy!

Easy (but fab) Birthday Cake

Easy no-faff chocolate birthday cake – easily customisable with a plastic toy. What’s not to love!

So, I love baking but sometimes my ambition outweighs my time and talent when it comes to making cakes for my family. I often start my search on Pinterest and find something which I like the look of, and then freestyle my own (slightly less fancy/intricate) version. The children have been pretty pleased with the results (and me too!). This cake I made for my son’s birthday last week, and as a Pokemon mad fan his immediate choice was “make me a Pokemon Mummy”. Well I winged this one, but he ended up with a chocolate cake, covered in newly discovered (and really tasty) caramel M&Ms and good old Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers.

The recipe is a traditional equal measure chocolate cake which bakes in no time at all, and is then iced with chocolate butter icing. Simple! The best bit is that the cake doesn’t need to be perfectly shaped (mine rarely are) because you’re going to cover it in chocolate fingers and top with M&Ms (or Smarties, or Maltesers or Chocolate Buttons – whatever you fancy!)

Ingredients:

225g Unsalted Butter (softened) plus a bit for greasing your tin

225g Caster Sugar

4 Large Free Range Eggs

220g Self Raising Flour

2tsp Baking Powder

50g Cocoa Powder

Splash of Vanilla Extract

For the Buttercream: beat 200g of butter with about 500g of icing sugar. I like to add in a splash of vanilla extract and chuck in some cocoa to taste.

Method:

Start by preheating your oven to 180c and butter two 20cm sandwich tins (I prefer the spring based ones). Line both bases with greased baking paper.

Don’t ask me why there is an ice scraper on my island…

Add your butter, sugar and vanilla extract to a large bowl and mix until light and pale (I like to use my faithful Kitchen Aid to do this). Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. It’s best to have a taste at this point (well that’s what we like to do – then I have to wrestle the bowl and beater away from my daughter before she scoffs the lot). Divide between the two tins as evenly as you can, and bake on the same shelf for 25-30 minutes (sticking a skewer in usually works for me. If they come out clean then the cake is done).

Next leave the cakes to cool in the tin for 5 mins and get on making your buttercream. Add the butter, vanilla extract, cocoa and icing sugar to your bowl (again I use my Kitchen Aid, but make sure the cover is on and I also pop a tea towel over the top to help catch the inevitable fog of icing sugar escaping from the top!).

Then carefully remove the cakes from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Once they are fully cooled, put one upside down on a flat plate or board, dollop some of your butter icing on and place the other cake on top (I like to put it upside down as you get a flatter edge). Roughly cover the whole cake with the butter cream and smooth down a bit with a palette knife. Then, edge the cake with chocolate fingers, pressing them in firmly, pop on your chosen toy(s) and pour on your choice of sweets to top. So easy to make and looks fantastic.