Happy Mothers Day (belated!)

Happy Mothers Day! For yesterday.

I hope everyone had a lovely day. My day was actually no different to most, seeing as the hubby and Miss Q went off rotavating the allotment, leaving me to keep an eye on the dinner (after they prepped it and got it on!).

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But must say the hubby made a big effort for me, and I got not one, not two but THREE bunches of tulips! So my house is full of beautiful flowers this morning – which definitely make me smile!

And they also made me a cake – using marzipan. Miss Q’s school homework this week had  a history of “Mothering Sunday” and how it was tradition to make/bring simnel cake, which is a fruit cake covered in marzipan. I love marzipan so told her she could make me one for Mothers Day – but without the fruit cake bit! So on Saturday they found a recipe for an almond and marzipan cake and firstly made the marzipan from scratch on Sunday morning, before then baking the cake. Very impressive 🙂

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I hope that you all had a lovely day yesterday, whether it was Mothers Day for you or not. We had some lovely weather too so I think people had a great weekend – but because of the Boy and his chicken pox, we didn’t get to leave the house and enjoy it!

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Paprika Potatoes!

Now I am aware I might be late to the party, but I have just made these, and they are so easy and so delicious!

The other day I was making a Spanish Omelette and I wasn’t using chorizo (it’s not free on Slimming World, and I had none anyway!) – so I wanted to add some extra flavour. So I decided to add salt and paprika to the potatoes while cooking. And Wow! I think they are my new obsession! I bought more salad potatoes and cooked them up so they’d be ready for me to make these again (which I already have)!

They are so simple:

Slice the (cooked) salad potatoes
Spray with fry light
Sprinkle on salt and paprika
Spray the frying pan with fry light and heat
Put the potatoes into the pan, with the sprayed and seasoned side facing down
Spray the tops of the potatoes and sprinkle on salt and paprika
After 1-2mins, turn over the potatoes and fry the other side for another 1-2mins
Then you’re ready to go!

They are really simple and really tasty. Usually potatoes need to be fried in butter, or have butter melting in while you’re eating them – but these really add such a flavour that you don’t miss the butter.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake!

I’ve made this chocolate biscuit cake a few times now, for special occasions. It is really simple to make, and so delicious! Friends and family have got the recipe from me and have been making it since, so I decided I’d share it here.

Here is a picture of the most recent one that I made for Princess P’s communion last week, this was much thinner than usual because I used a larger tin!

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I used the Odlums recipe http://odlums.ie/recipes/chocolate-biscuit-cake/ as a base recipe, and then made some changes (used a bit extra chocolate used a mix of digestives, bourbon creams and a few rich tea, my kids don’t eat raisins and I wasn’t sure who’d eat nuts – so I used the raisin allowance in crunchies, and I used the nuts allowance on mars bar and I added a few extra maltesers too!

Below is the rough recipe that I used after changing the base recipe:

275g  Butter

150ml  Golden Syrup

250g Good Quality Chocolate

200g Packet of Digestive Biscuits (roughly crushed)

200g Packet of Bourbon Biscuits (roughly crushed)

125g Crunchies (roughly broken)

125g Mars Bars (chopped)

120g Packet of Maltesers (chopped in half)

METHOD:

Base recipe recommends to line a 15cms/6″ round cake tin or a 2lb loaf tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper, but I’ve tried it in different size tins with no problem. Because you’re not baking it, the tin size doesn’t matter as much.

Melt the butter, syrup and chocolate in a pan over a low heat. Stir to make sure all the ingredients are well mixed together. Add in the chopped mars bars so they soften slightly.

Add the crushed biscuits, maltesers and crunchies. Stir well.

Transfer to prepared tin. Level it on top and press down well to avoid “air gaps”. Allow to get cold and hard.

Again the original recipe said wrap completely in greaseproof paper and store in a fridge, however I was told that if the cake was iced (in a sugarpaste icing) that it would be good kept out of the fridge for up to two weeks. (I also discovered that you don’t store a cake covered in sugarpaste icing in the fridge because it goes sticky)

This cake is just delicious. Even before it sets – I have a big problem keeping my spoon out of the pot when the butter, syrup and chocolate are melted together. Mmmm.

Here’s one I made for Baba Z’s christening, so you can see they can be decorated any way!

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Rainbow Cake

It was the baby’s first birthday a few weeks ago, and I had seen rainbow cakes last year and I really wanted to make one. I had planned to make it for my other half’s birthday but when I looked up recipes I realised I needed to use gel colours or it could look wishy washy. So I ordered the gels and planned it for the 1st birthday instead.

A friend, who had a cake business, told me the key to good colours was to use a yolk free batter, so I found a recipe for an angel food cake. The recipe I used had 12 egg whites, and you beat them to nice and puffy – but of course once you split it between six bowls (it loses a bit of air, and “puff”) and then mix in the food colour gels, it had lost all its air and all its puff. Which I think then affected the texture and taste.

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I had a bit of an issue with my orange layer. I decided to work through the rainbow starting at red, then orange. I put in equal amounts of red and yellow food gel to make the orange, not realising that the red dye was extremely strong. I ended up having to put about half the jar of yellow food gel into it, and still in the bowl it looked red. It didn’t look at bad once it actually baked.

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Once they were cooled, I wrapped them in clingfilm and put them in the fridge overnight.

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Next morning I made a lovely white chocolate buttercream icing (that I found the recipe of here: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/16140/white-chocolate-buttercream-icing.aspx) and added a layer in between and on top. The fun began when I tried to do the sides. I just didn’t have the patience, it kept falling off.

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Luckily, the other half stepped in, with a hot knife, and his nice calm patience!

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And so it was all ready for the big reveal! I was more excited than the kids! 🙂

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I was very impressed. Now, I must admit that the sponge was not lovely and light, or moist and tasty – it was dense and rubbery to be honest. I think that if I was to make it again, I would just use a normal cake batter, egg yolk and all. What do you think, taste or looks – which is more important in the case of a rainbow cake?

Best Brown Bread!

So when when my other half started on the healthy arthritis diet, he was only allowed to eat wholemeal. I have often baked bread over the years, and although I used to have a lovely recipe, I found the results were inconsistent. Sometimes I got lovely brown bread, and sometimes I didn’t. It was so disappointing when you cut it open and it wasn’t nice. So I went looking for another wholemeal brown bread recipe, and I came across this one on the Supervalu website:

http://supervalu.ie/recipe/wholemeal-bread/

It is very easy. I make batches of the dry ingredients, where I weigh them all out and bag them up. And because I’m keeping it all wholemeal, I don’t add the 50g plain flour, I just use 400g wholemeal flour. Dry ingredients are 400g wholemeal flour, 50g porridge oats, 2 level teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt.

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And then when I want to make a loaf, I just take out a bag of the dry ingredients and pour into a bowl, put a tablespoon of molasses and dessert spoon of sunflower oil into a pot and warm a bit to melt, stir in 500ml buttermilk and then add that mix and 2 eggs to the dry ingredients. Super easy!

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And I line my loaf tin with this magic greaseproof paper. I love it. I found it in Dealz a while back, and it is the only greaseproof paper I’ve used that really is non-stick. I used to spend ages trying to peel greaseproof paper off loafs of bread, homemade pizza bases or cookies that all got stuff to the bottom. And then I found this, and I LOVE love it!

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Then pour the mix into the tin and pop it into the oven at 160C for 45 minutes, then tip it out of the tin and leave in the oven for another 15 minutes and take it out.

This is the easiest brown bread I’ve made – and it has turned out delicious every single time!