Energise Me!!! (Please!)

You may remember last year that I took part in a brilliant challenge suggested by those clever people at Whittard? I created a cake in a mug….cooked in the microwave! Yes, really! Check back to October 2013 if you don’t believe me!

Well, Whittard have issued another challenge via their Blog – a Healthy New Year Blogger Carnival 

I think you ought to have a go…..

I have!

By far my best discovery so far this year is Whittard’s amazing Cinnamon & Orange Superior Tea Pyramids. They’re a flavoured Green Tea – and we all know how wonderful Green Tea is for you. It’s loaded with antioxidants and nutrients which do you masses of good – go ahead and Google if you don’t believe me (honestly, are you already not believing me for the second time in this one post. Humph!). Anyway, from the very second you open your pack of Cinnamon & Orange tea bags you KNOW you’re in for a special treat and, I swear, you’ll heave a huge satisfied sigh and put the kettle on immediately.  Here, let me tempt you further….

Try it now!

Try it now!

It’s okay, it doesn’t come with a funny sticky out aerial, I just took the photo of it in front of my radio…

So, what does this have to do with cookery and healthy recipes? Well, I decided that I needed a bit of an afternoon energy boost to go with my delicious cuppa so wondered about making some flapjacks (oats are good for digestion, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, helps control blood sugar levels, helps maintain a healthy weight fact fans – I Googled this time!) …..soaking the dried fruit in my Cinnamon & Orange tea before using it! I know – genius right?! And you know what, it worked!! It was delicious…..so delicious that I nearly ate all of the fruit before putting it in with the rest of the ingredients. So, here’s the recipe in case you’d like a go for yourself.

150g oats (I used organic jumbo oats)
45g dried fruit (I used cranberries brought back to life by soaking in Cinnamon & Orange tea)
40g seeds (I used sunflower seeds)
2 apples (I used Pink Lady….sorry, I’m being very specific aren’t I?!)
A quick glug of oil (Virgin Olive in this case)
3tbsp honey
1tbsp cinnamon (yes more, I know but yum!)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of salt

After heating the oven to 170 degrees (fan) chop your apples and then zap them in a food processor until they’re very finely chopped.

Slop a glug of oil into a saucepan, add the honey and vanilla and heat gently. Add the apples when the mixture is runny and warm and mix together well.

In another bowl mix together the oats, fruit, seeds, salt and cinnamon then add the apple mixture to them.

Press the mixture into a greased/lined tin and bake for 15-20 mins (mine needed 20) until they’re a lovely golden brown.

Turn them out and leave them (if you possibly can!) to cool and then cut them into HUGE pieces…..or normal sized slices if you’re anyone other than me!

Put the kettle on, get a lovely cup of Cinnamon & Orange on the go, sit with your feet up and go AHHHHHH very loudly….. Feel a bit smug and very happy!

Ha, managed to miss the aerial out of this photo!

Ha, managed to miss the aerial out of this photo!

 

 

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Recipe Fishing!

Do you stick to tried and tested recipes in recipe books you’ve had for years? Or do you like to try something different?

Since we moved house and my husband decided that boxes should be kept in storage until we’d decorated, I’ve been missing my recipe books and have been “fishing” for recipes online….so far the results have been good!

Bearing in mind all the recent articles in the news about food wastage, when I came across a packet of sausages in the fridge yesterday morning with a use by date of 16th, and noticed a few rashers of bacon which really needed using or throwing, I decided to use. As we were all busy yesterday morning there was no opportunity for a “grill-up” for breakfast. I decided to Google recipes using sausage and bacon and was promptly directed to the Philadelphia website. If you’ve never seen the recipes on their website before, you really should take a look. We’ve used them before so I was delighted to find myself on their website with a recipe ideal for the ingredients that I had.

Rather than repeat the recipe for Philly Sausage and Bacon Potato Bake to you, I’ll just direct you to the page and encourage you to have a go – you won’t be disappointed! My only reservations were the amount of mess I made (needed lots of saucepans, not me throwing things around!) and there didn’t seem to be much sauce to add to the other ingredients, so I added more boiling water to make it go further, which worked out just fine.

If you have a go at recipe fishing I’d love to hear the about the results!

Yummy Philly Sausage, Bacon Potato Bake!

Mad MAOAM Mummified Moggie!!

Okay – RIGHT at the start, no kitty was hurt during this process….!

Those very nice people at MAOAM raised a challenge on their Facebook page and, as you may have already guessed, if there’s anything I enjoy it’s a challenge, a chance to be creative and…maybe….a little bit of madness on the way!

MAOAM’s instructions were “Send a photo of MAOAM sweets or packaging in a Halloween setting in an image which is fun and where you have used your effort and imagination to create the image” – FUN!!!!!!!

Well, naturally, the first idea that popped into my head was to mummify the cat….. Before I hear the howls of protest, I did have our cat doorstop in mind.  Here’s the poor guy before the process started

Bare, naked kitty doorstop

Bare, naked kitty doorstop

As my daughter’s a big fan of Decopatch we thought that perhaps we could eat lots and lots and lots of yummy MAOAM sweets (yes, you can see why we like a challenge can’t you?!) and then Decopatch (or stick on paper in bits to you and I) the empty wrappers.  Here they are!

HOW many MAOAM did we eat?!

HOW many MAOAM did we eat?!

They look good just like that don’t they? The Decopatch glue is great as you glue under and over the object you’re sticking, as normally you’d use smaller pieces and layer them slightly,  and then your finished work has a nice shine afterwards too, without the hassle of varnishing.

I have to say that I’ve never really done much of this before, whereas my daughter’s a bit of an expert, especially at being frugal with what she does with her glue. As a result her sheets were dry within hours, whereas mine were still a bit damp and sticky several days later!! I had wondered how that little pot of glue had lasted her years with the amount of sticking she does!! She’ll need some new now though!

After the sheets were, eventually, dry I cut them into strips and then “bandaged” up kitty….and here’s the result! For people who are still a bit freaked out about a covered cat LOOK, I left a space for him to breathe through his nose, even though he’s an inanimate object – I’m not a complete monster!!

MAOAWWWWW!

MAOAWWWWW!

But, but, but….that’s never enough once you start an idea is it?! After that I thought I’d make a sign to go behind kitty for our final display. I hand drew this, and whilst drawing the “M”‘s realised they looked a bit mouth like….. Okay, so bring on a MAOAM pumpkin then!

I really like the M shaped eyes and mouth – they work very well

Please see below for a recipe to make your own ectoplasm!

Please see below for a recipe to make your own ectoplasm!

I think! However, that was a bit dull for us really wasn’t it?! Why not have the pumpkin’s brain’s dripping out in some ectoplasm?! Why not indeed! As our usual ectoplasm supplier is currently busy with other Halloween duties, we decided to make our own. We melted some MAOAM in the microwave (BE CAREFUL if you try this, it only takes seconds and the results are MOLTEN hot – don’t stick your fingers in it!). To this we added some green food colouring and some of the pumpkin seeds. It’s a pretty icky result isn’t it?! Absolutely ideal!!!

We decided that, as well as offering trick or treat callers MAOAM from the handy skull called Ozzle, which we borrowed from my mother (you see, it’s hereditary!), we’d make them up some cupcakes too! I’m VERY pleased with how these turned out. We wrapped the cake cases with more of our decopatch style paper, used unwrapped MAOAM as eyebrows and then a Cyclops style eye in the middle!

Eye spy MAOAM!

Eye spy MAOAM!

You’ll be pleased to hear that we really did think it was time to stop after all this crazy creativity, and put the whole scene together (before Halloween was over and done with!)…… so here’s the final result….. Hope you like it!

HAPPY MAOAM HALLOWEEN!

HAPPY MAOAM HALLOWEEN!

…and by night…..!

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Oh, you Mug!

So, have you heard of Cakes in a Mug before? Using a microwave? Yes, really! If you’ve not been initiated to this AMAZING art yet, then read on dear friend (if you already know all about it, read on anyhow, you might learn something, or be able to comment and teach me something!).

I’m not sure how long microwave mug cakes have been around – when Googling in an effort to find out I did come across an article entitled “Magic Chocolate Mug Cake Microwave Recipe” dated 2008….and I think the concept is every bit as magical today.

Bringing up right up to date, those terribly clever people at Whittard have decided to celebrate the magic with a Cake in a Mug Blogger Carnival. As they say in their article, cake in a mug is a perfect solution for someone who really fancies a little cake without the time and effort involved in baking an entire cake. So, with this spirit in mind, here’s my recipe. Some of the ingredients may seem a little “different” but I PROMISE you that they make a wonderful cake.

The ingredients are in such small amounts that I’ll just run through them as part of the method:-

Optional for decorating purposes later……melt a little dark chocolate in a small bowl, dip in a strawberry and place it on a plate in the fridge to cool (now melt the rest of the chocolate and eat the rest of the strawberries…..if you’re me….).

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter into your (microwave-proof) mug (if you’ve never melted butter in the microwave, please be aware this only takes seconds – my poor nan tried to soften butter in the microwave once, setting it for a minute, then had to try to harden it back up in the freezer!)

Mix in 2 tablespoons of sugar until well combined, then stir in a medium egg.

Add 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt (yes, really – makes it tasty!).  Then add 4 tablespoons of self raising flour together with a little bicarbonate of soda (I use just less than 1/4 teaspoon).

This is the point that you should add any other ingredients that you fancy. For this particular cake I added a tablespoon of Whittard Luxury White Hot Chocolate Powder and some chocolate drops. You could add cocoa, vanilla or any other flavour essence…whatever takes your fancy.

Pop in the microwave. I blasted my cake for 1 minute 30 seconds in our 850w oven. If that doesn’t seem long enough and your cake looks a little underdone put in for a while longer – but only go 10 seconds at a time as you can really ruin the texture if you overcook it.

Put on the kettle and make a lovely pot of tea. Take your cake out of the microwave and decorate as you wish…… And here’s one I made earlier!

Choco-Strawberry Micro Cake!

Choco-Strawberry Micro Cake!

I recommend eating it immediately, from the mug with a spoon, while the chocolate drops are still hot and runny…. Then do the brilliantly little amount of washing up that you’ve created, have a meal ready for your family when they get home from work/school and eat a tiny portion, claiming to be on a diet….. Go on, I’ll keep your cake eating a secret!

This post is an entry to the Whittard of Chelsea Cake in a Mug Blogger Carnival

UPDATE!

Delighted and absolutely over the moon to say that I was a runner up in Whittard’s Mug Blogger Carnival! The results are online and I’m most definitely going to have a go at some of the other entries – they look lush! Please let me know if you’ve had a go at a cake and how it came out!