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Apple and Blackberry Muffins

27 Aug

It’s that wonderful time of year when, everywhere you look (if you look hard enough) the trees and bushes are heaving with fruit.

Blackberries, apples, pears and plums.

Popping over to my friend’s house for a play date the other week was very fruitful indeed. I left at the end with a tub of blackberries from her garden and cooking apples from her father in laws tree.

I made the obligatory crumble of course, but having a few blackberries and an apple left,  Liv and I decided to make some muffins.

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I have used this basic recipe for years and just change the flavour and fruit according to what I have in.

Ingredients

4oz Castor sugar

4oz Butter

9oz Self raising flour

1tsp Baking powder

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 pt milk

1 apple finely chopped

A handful of blackberries

 

Method

Pre heat the oven to 16o c

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Combine the eggs one at a time and then add the milk and vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour and baking powder.

Add your fruit, spoon into muffin cases and bake in the oven for around 30 mins.

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For best results,  eat straight from the oven with a big cup of tea. Enjoy 🙂

 

 

 

 

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb!

21 May

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I was recently given a bundle of home-grown rhubarb and couldn’t decide what to do with it.

A friend reminded me of a cream tea we had taken recently which involved rhubarb and ginger jam.

We had enjoyed it so much I thought I would give it a go myself.

Here is what I did –

480 g rhubarb washed and cut into 1cm ish pieces

480 g jam sugar

1/2 lemon zest and juice

25 g stem ginger

2cm fresh ginger peeled and grated

 

Sterilise around three small jars and put a saucer in the freezer.

Add all your ingredients together and give it a good stir.

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And then leave for covered for an hour or so to let the sugar dissolve into the juices.

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Transfer to a pan and on a medium heat stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Turn up the heat and boiled rapidly until you a have reached the setting point. Do this by putting a blob on your saucer and leaving  it for a couple of minutes. Run a finger through the blob and if it wrinkles and doesn’t run back into the clearing that your finger has left,  it is done.

transfer into sterilised jars and screw on the lid immediately.

I decided to use some friends as guinea pigs.

Mrs W made the most beautiful scones.

I was slightly concerned I might ruin them with my concoction.

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The result was tasty but could have done with a little more ginger to give it a bigger kick, but I guess that is down to personal taste and trial and error.

It was as easy as any jam to make and makes a bit of a change from strawberry jam on scones.

 

Guest Post – Low carb/Sugar-free Cheesecake

4 Feb

Todays guest post comes to you from fellow blogger and school run comrade Lowcarbdaddy. He will be talking us through a low carb, sugar-free cheesecake.

What’s not to like?

Thankyou so much for your contribution Scott.

Over to you.

Firstly, I would like to thank Hannah for allowing me to post my recipe, or guest blog as its known…   My name is Scot Lester AKA “Lowcarbdaddy” I attempt to bake/make all my favorite foods and cakes using no flour and no sugar, e.g. low carb and sugar-free.

I was diagnosed almost 2 years ago with Type 2 Diabetes which has led me to change my diet to a low carb sugar-free one, as after constant testing my blood sugars after eating various foods, it has highlighted the fact that foods with Carbohydrates and “sugars” do not agree with me and cause my blood sugars to raise significantly up to a dangerous level.  Now that I avoid 90% of carbs my blood sugars are very stable to that of a non diabetic.  This is mainly because 99% of carbohydrates are sugars.

Now I feel this is important not only to people who are diabetic but to everyone, nearly all foods contain carbohydrates especially processed foods and low-fat products and I want to make sure that everyone understands what impact carbohydrates has on your body.

To that end I am sharing my recipe for a Low Carb/Sugar Free cheesecake which tastes amazing and everyone who has tried it prefers it to the “normal” ones. I would like to point out that this recipe does contain high fat and therefore is high in calories.  I will explain this…..  Anyone on a Low carb diet needs to still have energy, in  order to get this without eating carbs you have to consume fat, mind you these should be good fats which will give you good cholesterol (HDL) and not bad fats which will cause bad cholesterol (LDL) , this is what never gets explained to you at the Docs.  I have better than average Cholesterol, Blood Pressure and Blood Glucose by following this diet and have lost 2 stone within 3 months of swapping my diet.

Your body needs good cholesterol (HDL) see here.

If you do eat carbohydrates, then this recipe would be a treat like any other treat as you would then be eating carbohydrates and fat which should not really mix, but a 1 off is OK :o).

Here are a few simple store cupboard essentials you should have to follow a low carb diet:  (you can find most of these and the other ingredients in a good health shop, the independent ones are better.

  • Almond Flour
  • Coconut Flour
  • Xylitol (Natural sweetener – carb free – like for like sugar use
  • Coconut Oil – Raw
  • Real Butter
  • Double Cream
  • Liquid Stevia

Here is the Recipe for the Vanilla Cheesecake, you can add a lemon flavoring if you like a lemon Cheesecake.

Ingredients
  • 125 grams Almond Flour (finely ground almonds)
  • 50 grams Desiccated Coconut
  • 50 grams Butter
  • 2 tablespoon(s) Vanilla Extract (depending on taste)
  • 300 grams Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 50 grams sweetener (xylitol)
  • 2 tablespoon(s) sweetener (xylitol)
  • 2 teaspoon(s) Liquid Stevia
  • 1.5 cup(s) Double Cream
Method
  1. Mix almond flour, desiccated coconut, 50g of sweetener together, melt butter and add, mix well.
  2. Line a pop bottom 8 or 9″ tin with baking sheet at the bottom and sides.
  3. Press mix into bottom of tin and press down firmly to create the “biscuit base”.
  4. Baked for 15-20 minutes until a little golden.
  5. Leave to go very cold, put in fridge.
  6. Mix cream cheese with 2 tbsp of Sweetener, liquid stevia, vanilla extract until smooth.
  7. In a separate bowl whisk double cream until soft peaks, add whipped cream to cream cheese mix and beat well to mix all together.
  8. Spoon mixture into the cold tin base mixture and press lightly into edges until all base is covered.
  9. Put in fridge for a good few hours (more the better).
  10. Eat and enjoy.

I hope you enjoy making this cheesecake, it’s now my favorite thing to eat without feeling I have been bad.  If you want to print this recipe off in an easy format you can get a printable card from my blog www.lowcarbdaddy.com.

I am posting new recipes slowly on my blog, so please have a look for some more soon.

www.lowcarbdaddy.com
Facebook/lowcarbdaddy

I also own and run a Diabetes support website which has more recipes on and lots of Low Carb talk.

www.diabetessupportforum.org

Thank you to Hannah for allowing me to share my recipe.

Scot Lester

AKA – Lowcarbdaddy

Apple Butter

12 Sep

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It was with some trepidation that I took over a very tiny pot of freshly made apple butter to my friend.

Lu is a straight talking lady, so I knew I would get a straight answer. She isn’t going to sugar coat any pill.

Apple Butter. What is it?

Well it is like a spicy concentrated apple jam/ spread/very versatile little make. I believe it is more well-known in America, but also Jersey seems to have its own version Black Butter. Weirdly butter plays no part in either of these things.

As I still had a huge amount of apples to deal with from my little Scrumping trip with Mrs P, I thought I would give it a go.

Basically because I have better things to do with my time than stand for hours over a saucepan, I used a slow cooker technique.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that my slow cooker is my best friend (I don’t get out much). A slow cooker is not just for winter stews, they are great for so many things, jams, puddings, spag bols, slow roasting. They are just brilliant!

I digress.

Apple butter seems to be less recipe and more rough guide depending on what type of apples you have and how tart or sweet you like it.

Having put the children to bed I peeled and cut around 5lbs of apples (very dull work) and added them to bestie. I then threw around 7oz of sugar, 2tsp cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and around 5 cloves.

Once everything was in the slow pot I popped the lid on and switched it on high for an hour, stirring once or twice.

 

When the hour was up I gave it a quick stir and turned it down to low, leaving the lid off this time. Then I had a glass of wine, watched a bit of TV and went to bed.

By the morning the smell in the house was divine. Aromas of apples, and spices evoked memories of misty mornings, frizzy hair, conkers, artfully arranged scarves and rushing out to buy de-icer. Autumn

So after roughly 10 to 12 hours of slow cooking with no lid on what you get is a lovely golden brown mulch.

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I took a whisk to it to smooth out some of the lumps and placed it into sterilised jars.

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So what did Lu make of it?

Well it was a yes from her.

We tried it on some really mature cheddar and it went beautifully, it’ fruity tartness (Naughty) complementing the creamy, salty flavours of the cheese.

We also tried it with a little butter on toast, which was really comforting and would be lovely after a nice autumn walk with a cup of tea.

It would also be lovely used as a glaze for a baked ham or chops, or even spread on a piece of apple or fruit cake.

A very versatile little jar of loveliness.

 

 

 

Jam Making for the Multi Tasker

4 Sep

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This morning I was making jam before the school run.

Sounds impressive/nuts, yes?

It’s not.

I threw 1kg blackberries and roughly 700g Jam sugar in my slow pot. Added a big squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt, gave it a quick mash-up, put the lid on and switched it on high. Having put the timer on for 2 1/2 hours I just got on with the rest of my morning.

I dropped my son at school and then nipped into town to pick up a few bits.

Boots were collected from the cobblers, the chemist was visited and so too was the music shop where I had to buy a Recorder.

My son has decided to join Recorder club and so we enter a bold new era of music practise. I will not endure  enjoy this alone, I will make sure friends and family get to at every available opportunity.

After the music shop,  I slope sheepishly into the hairdressers. I have not stepped foot in there for almost a year and it shows. My hair is bad. I look like one of those mangy lions with no Pride that wanders around stealing scraps of food and getting beaten up by bigger lions with better hair. The manager tries not to stare and we agree to get it done sooner rather than later. Appointment booked.

I take my daughter to the cafe for a treat. It is her penultimate day with me before goes to big school *Sniff*

She shows her gratitude by boldly pointing at the man sitting next to us and solemnly declares “That man has no hair”.  Cue me necking hot tea and getting out as soon as possible.

When we get home the 2 1/2 hours is up and I give the jam a quick stir and set the timer for another three hours. Leaving the lid off this time.

Three loads of washing are done and then put out on the line.

Chicken is roasted.

Lunch is made and consumed.

A blog post is drafted.

The house is quickly tidied and then it is school run and a trip to the park.

And all this time my slow cooker is making me jam!

All I need to do is pop it in jars and make it look pretty.

Raspberry and Blueberry Jam

20 Aug

The weather was good and we were looking for something cheap and fun to do in the afternoon.

I remember as children almost every year we would go to our local pick your own fruit farm (or whatever they are called). We used to pick baskets and baskets of fruit. Then Mum would freeze batches for future pavlovas and flans and the rest she would make beautiful jams.

So we decided to take a little meander in that direction and check it out.

We got there a little late and only had half an hour before they were closing. But that gave us plenty of time to get stuck into the raspberry bushes.

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The Bo had made a fuss on the way about not wanting to go, but once he got his basket there was no stopping our little cibophobic. In fact we almost had to drag him away.

The children managed somehow to pick exactly a Kilo of raspberries which came to the grand total of £5. I think that was fairly good value.

I thought I would make some jam with our bounty which could be saved for gifts in the future.

I have a cupboard full of empty jars. I never throw them away as you never know when they will come in handy. And I have plenty of ribbon and fabric for pimping up said jars.

Making jam is so easy but raspberry is in particular, as you only need to use normal granulated sugar, so no need to go rushing out to buy preserving/jam sugar.

All you need is an equal weight of fruit to sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and a knob of butter. Oh and a saucer in the freezer!

I had some blueberries going spare in the fridge so I just added them to the fruit and popped them in a pan.

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I gave them a light mash and cooked them gently until they started to soften.

Then I added my sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice and heated it gently until the sugar dissolved,  then added a knob of butter.

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After this I turned up the heat and boiled it for approx 30 mins.

To check if the jam is ready I took my saucer from the freezer and spooned a little of the mixture on. Then ran my finger through it. If it wrinkled it was ready.

Once my jam was ready, using a jug I poured it into my pre sterilised jars. (This is where baby microwave sterilisers can come in really handy), popped the lids on, and once cooled added labels and pretty fabric tops.

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For £5 and an afternoons entertainment we have created five little gifts for the future.

Store Cupboard Treats

31 Jul

At the end of the month it is time to raid the store cupboards and get creative.

I spent yesterday morning in the kitchen having a go at rustling up a few treats. With varying levels of success.

I tried to make some marmalade teabread which can only be described as an epic fail.

It came out of the oven solid, heavy and frankly brick like. The sort of thing you could imagine being thrown through a window with a threatening note attached.

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Luckily only one egg was harmed in the baking of this monstrosity

I found plenty of nuts, seeds and rolled oats, so made a batch of granola to keep me going in the mornings.

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Whilst I was doing that I had a joint of Gammon baking in the oven. There is something wonderfully homely and comforting about the smell of baked gammon permeating the house.

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Mrs H had found an Asda recipe for sweetcorn and gammon chowder. I thought it looked lovely. I decided to adapt and half the recipe and give it a go.

The recipe was all things that I had knocking around in the fridge and cupboards which makes it a really cheap meal. Here is what I did

Ingredients

115g cubed gammon

oil

1 small onion diced

150g potatoes cubed

150ml chicken stock (homemade on this occasion)

225ml milk

1/2 tsp of cornflour mixed with a little water

Small tin of sweetcorn

Cook the onion in some oil until softened and then add the potatoes, cooking for 2-3 mins.

Add the chicken stock, cover and simmer for 5 mins.

Add the milk and simmer uncovered for a further 5  mins until the potatoes are tender.

Add the gammon and sweetcorn and season with black pepper and simmer for another 5 mins.

Add the cornflour mixture and allow to thicken slightly.

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And there you have it. Proper, creamy, comfort food. Perfect with some crusty bread.

This was a success for me but a fail in the eyes of the rest of the family as they all seem to think that sweetcorn is the devils food.

Oh well, all the more for me then!

 

Grow for it!

24 Jul

I am the first to admit that I am not in any way green fingered.

Plants just don’t do it for me. My lovely mother in law finds it incredibly therapeutic to dig, and cut and  hammer away. And so.  I let her do it.

She actually chopped the top of her finger off in my garden, (no one ever found that finger tip) but it doesn’t seem to have slowed her down.

She likes it, I don’t. Simple.

Except the last couple of years I have started to grow a few vegetables in pots.

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Now this, I like doing. I can see the point in it. There is a result at the end, more than just a few brightly coloured petals.

I am not at the point of talking to my plants yet, but I watch them closely, checking on them two or three times a day. It is turning me a bit geeky.

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I get excited when the first signs of peas, tomatoes, beans start to show and watch closely for any signs of ripening.

I have been studying my tomato plant intently, inspecting the flowers and looking for that tell-tale swelling at the centre.

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The children get excited too about the new developments and I think it is great for them to see where their food comes from (not just Tescos) and there is something lovely about eating what has been freshly plucked  from your own garden.

The peas never make it into the house. Liv eats them as soon as they are ripe and the only two strawberries that we managed to grow were also gone as soon as they turned scarlet and glossy.

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We don’t have bucket loads of veggies, but there is pleasure in the growing and in the eating.

Low Fat Chocolate Brownies

28 Jun

Back in May we were given a box full of tinned goods.

A lot of it was tinned fruit.

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Mum used to have plenty of tinned fruit in the cupboards and I remember lots of puddings from my childhood seemed to contain either tinned mandarins or tinned peaches.

Amongst these this box of jewel coloured like fruity treasure were two rather austere looking tins of prunes. They are like the Roundheads to the colourful Cavalier fruits in the box, joyless but well-meaning.

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Everytime I open the cupboard door, they stare at me flintily challenging me to eat them.

So I took up the gauntlet and I got onto pinterest. I found a recipe for chocolate brownies containing pureed prunes. Maybe the prunes will loosen up a bit, relax and realise that there is more to life than sitting on top of some equally dour rice pudding.

This little recipe actually uses pureed baby food prunes, I just swapped it for the tinned stuff. The other great thing about this recipe is that it contains no butter, just a little oil, and it is super quick to make.

Ingredients

70g Plain flour

6tbs cocoa powder

225g caster sugar

pinch if salt

2tsp vegetable oil (or oil or your choice)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

120g tinned prunes

2 eggs

Pre heat your oven to 170 c.

Line a baking tray with grease proof paper.

Mix all your dry ingredients together.

Blend your prunes, removing the stones and then mix all your we ingredients with the dry until they are well blended together.

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Put the batter into the tin and bake for 30 mins.

And the result?

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Chocolatey, gooey, rich loveliness. Your wouldn’t even know there were prunes in it.

Chocolate!!

26 Jun

I have more birthdays up and coming in the summer and I have been having an inspiration bypass.

Having called my friend to pick her brains she came up with this fab idea.

We’ve all seen those beautiful, expensive slabs  in the those hotels for chocolate. Well I thought I would make my own.

I took myself off to my local supermarket. It was 3 for 2 on those little bags of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. So  picked a variety and then hit the chocolate aisle. I decided to go for own brand finest chocolate in white & vanilla, plain and milk.

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Later in the kitchen I had a hodge podge of mismatched saucepans and bowls on  the stove, each one gently melting a different chocolate. Basically I spent the morning like a pig in…….well, chocolate.

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Meanwhile I lined some baking trays with parchment paper.

Once my chocolate had melted I poured a little onto the parchment paper and then sprinkled on my topping of choice. For some reason the white chocolate refused to melt properly so I also used this as a topping and to add texture. I might add it tastes delicious!!

They are now in the fridge cooling and hardening and with no children around I got to lick all the bowls and all the spoons.

So these are the flavours that I produced today.-

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Dark chocolate with dried mango

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Dark chocolate with cranberries and macadamia nuts

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Milk & white chocolate with a granola topping.

The possibilities for flavours are endless.

For packaging I will either wrap them in cellophane with a bow, or pop into a pretty tin.

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