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Dark Chocolate and Rhubarb Brownies

Thursday 30 May 2013

To celebrate Aero Bubbles being given a makeover so that the two tone taste is reflected on the outside and the inside, Aero challenged me to come up with my own unusual flavour pairing.  They sent me a fab cooking kit with goodies from Lakeland to help me in my quest.  

I decided to bake chocolate brownies and combine them with rhubarb as we have a huge glut of rhubarb from our shared allotment.  I can happily announce that Dark Chocolate and Rhubarb Brownies are delicious!  The tart sharpness of the rhubarb works really well with the rich dark chocolate chunks and soft texture of the chocolate brownie.
Dark Chocolate and Rhubarb Brownies

200g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
125g butter, chopped into chunks
2 large free range eggs
220g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
170g self raising flour
150g rhubarb, cut into 1cm chunks
100g dark chocolate, cut into chunks

Preheat your oven to 160C/140C Fan.  Line a 20cm x 30cm traybake tin with non-stick baking paper or use a disposable foil traybake tin.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  You don’t want the mixture to get too hot so keep the heat low and be patient.

Whilst the chocolate and butter are melting, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla together until well combined.  You don't need the eggs and sugar to be light and fluffy, just nicely combined so don't beat the mixture for too long.

Once the chocolate and butter have melted and you have a smooth, glossy mixture add to the eggs and sugar.  Beat well until completely combined.  Toss the rhubarb in the flour so that it is coated then add the flour and rhubarb to the wet ingredients along with the extra 100g chopped dark chocolate.  Fold everything together until totally combined.

Pour into the prepared tin and level the surface.  Bake for 45 minutes then leave to cool completely in the tin before attempting to slice and serve.

Large Chocolate Traybake

Wednesday 29 May 2013
Perfect for birthdays, cake stalls and shared afternoon teas
My husband is a chocoholic, he devours loads of the stuff each week.  Dark chocolate is his preference, not too dark and bitter though, 70% cocoa is about right.  I decided to bake a large traybake so that we could share some chocolate deliciousness with neighbours and friends on a miserable and rainy day.  The recipe below makes two 20cm x 30cm traybakes which you can sandwich together with buttercream, ganache or jam and fresh cream.  You could also cut the large traybake in half to make two 15cm x 10cm layer cakes, perfect for bake sales or cake stalls.  If you only need/want one traybake then halve the recipe.  You could still cut it in half and sandwich it together with ganache or buttercream.

Large Chocolate Traybake

550g self-raising flour
120g cocoa powder
230g caster sugar
660ml milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
250ml oil
2 free range eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven your to 180C/160C Fan.  Line 2 traybake tins, mine measured 20cm x 30 cm.  

Combine the flour, cocoa and sugar in a large bowl.  Combine the milk, vanilla extract, oil and beaten egg in a jug.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together until just combined.  Do not overmix the batter or you will end up with heavy cakes.

Pour the mixture evenly into the two lined traybake tins and bake for 20 minutes.  A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean when the traybakes are cooked.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing the traybakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

150ml/10 Tblsp double cream
300g dark or milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces

In a microwave safe jug, heat the cream in the microwave until almost boiling then add the chopped chocolate.  You could heat the cream until almost boiling in a saucepan on the hob, instead of using a microwave, and mix in the chopped chocolate.  Mix until combined and you have a thick and glossy mixture.  Leave to cool until thickened then use 1/2 - 2/3 to sandwich together the traybake.  Spread remaining ganache over the top of the traybake.

Versatile Turkey Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

You could make this salad using pasta or potatoes, chicken instead of turkey and whatever vegetables or salad greens you have to hand.  This is a fab salad that you can serve hot or cold, great for picnics or a speedy weeknight supper.  This post is an entry for BritMums Summer Turkey Recipe Challenge in association with Lean on Turkey.
Lean on Turkey Summer badge

Versatile Turkey Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Serves 6- 8 generously

180ml/8 Tblsp olive oil
60ml/4 Tblsp white wine vinegar
60ml/4 Tblsp honey
2 Tblsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste

400g turkey stir-fry
500g pasta
400g mixed vegetables 
3 spring onions, finely sliced 
2 peppers (any colour), diced

Stir fry the turkey in a hot pan until cooked through but not overcooked and dry.

Cook pasta or potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water until tender then drain.  Meanwhile, boil, steam or microwave vegetables until tender then drain.

To make the dressing measure all the ingredients into a jar, fasten the lid and shake until completely combined.

Put the pasta or potatoes and vegetables in a large bowl, add the spring onion and pepper, then toss through the dressing.  Serve warm or cold.

Eggless Banana Bread

Tuesday 28 May 2013

I created this Eggless Banana Bread today when I realised I was out of eggs.  It is basically like an enormous  banana scone, is delicious warm drizzled with a little golden syrup or honey, or eaten cold (with or without cream).  Some of my house guests today spread it with a thin layer of chocolate spread.

This delicious bake could be eaten for breakfast/brunch, morning tea, on a picnic, afternoon tea, or for pudding.  It is really versatile and can be eaten on it's own or with accompaniments as suggested above.

I do experiment quite a bit with baking and whilst there are some disasters that never make it to my blog, there is a great deal of satisfaction when I create something delicious and bloggable.  Make sure you use really over-ripe and spotty bananas to ensure the best flavour and texture of the final bake.

Eggless Banana Bread

450g self-raising flour
55g light soft brown sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
80g butter, cut into cubes
3 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
125ml milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan. Line a 20cm cake tin with non-stick baking paper or a liner.

Put the flour, light soft brown sugar and mixed spice into a bowl. Add the cubes of butter then rub the butter into flour mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Mix together the mashed banana, milk and vanilla in a jug. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not beat the mixture or you will end up with a heavy bread.

Turn out the dough into your prepared cake tin. Don’t be too bothered about spreading it to the corners, just make sure the top is somewhat level. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely or eat warm drizzled with honey or golden syrup. Either way it is delicious!

I'm submitting this bake to the Breakfast Club monthly blogging event created by Helen.  The theme this month is Bakes and Katie is hosting.

I'm also submitting this bake to Credit Crunch Munch because it is a delicious way to use up over-ripe bananas and doesn't use eggs and only a little butter, both of which can be expensive.  Credit Crunch Munch was created by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All, the lovely Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen is hosting this month.

Our Family Meal Plan 27/05/13 - The Exhausted Half Term Edition £66

Monday 27 May 2013
I am knackered! It's Half Term Holidays this week for us which means I will be even more tired come the end of this week.  I've a backlog of blog posts, reviews, recipe development work and emails along with my usual work shifts, 3 kids home all week (plus an extra 3 kids all day one day) and housework/household chores to sort out too.

This means that our Meal Plan is going to be low faff and partially recycled from a previous one.  

Breakfast will be cereal and milk or toast with a piece of fruit for afters.  Our dinners will be from this meal plan.  Our lunches, accompanied by fruit and homemade yoghurt, will be as follows:

Quesadillas using homemade Tortillas

Savoury Scone Swirls or sandwiches

We'll of course be having some baked treats which I will blog separately throughout the week.  The cost of our groceries on 26th May 2012 was £66.18 from Asda, had we shopped elsewhere our shopping would've cost £74.95 from Tesco and £81.34 from Sainsbury's.

Shopping List

42 items: £66.18
Packets & Cereals
ASDA Smartprice Cornflakes (750g)
ASDA Smartprice Crispy Rice Cereal (440g)
Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)
ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)
ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)
ASDA Wholefoods Cous Cous (500g)
Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g)
ASDA Wholefoods Brown Bread Flour (1.5Kg)
Great Scot Quinoa (300g)
Tins, Jars & Cooking
ASDA Wild Pacific Pink Salmon (418g)
ASDA Smartprice Mayonnaise (500ml)
ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g)
ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g)
Dairy & Eggs
ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)
ASDA Free Range Medium Eggs (12)
ASDA English Mature White Cheddar (500g)
2 FOR £5
ASDA Greek Feta Cheese (200g)
was £1.27
ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g)
ASDA Chosen by You Cypriot Halloumi (250g)
Fruit & Vegetables
ASDA Smartprice Sultanas (500g)
ASDA Asparagus (250g)
ASDA Salad Tomatoes (750g)
ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g)
ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g)
ASDA Red Onions by Weight (100g)
ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)
ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g)
ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (100g)
ASDA Whole Cucumber
ASDA Round Lettuce
ASDA Celery
ASDA Garlic Loose
ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)
ASDA Courgettes (3)
ASDA Spring Onions
ASDA Spinach (350g)
ASDA Unwaxed Lemons (5)
ASDA Juicing Oranges (1.6Kg)
ASDA Smartprice Apples (500g)
Meat, Fish & Poultry
ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (6 per pack - 454g)
was £2.98
ASDA Butcher's Selection Beef Burgers (10 per pack - 851g)
ASDA Chosen by You Pollock Fillets (1Kg)

Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, and are correct as of 26 May 2013.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

Asparagus Quiche

Sunday 26 May 2013

I do love our shared allotment.  There are the usual nosey parkers, whingers and the like but also some lovely friendly folk to have a natter to and get advice from.  Yesterday morning I was able to swap some of our glut of rhubarb for some just picked asparagus.  Our household are big fans of asparagus and will gladly eat it as often as we can whilst the season lasts.  We were all rather hungry after working for an hour or so weeding so it was decided that I would make a quiche for lunch.  It was delicious and rapidly devoured by us all.

Asparagus Quiche

500g asparagus, blanched if large stems or not really fresh
4 medium free range eggs
300ml whipping cream
salt and pepper
100g finely grated cheddar
3 spring onions, white part only, very finely diced.
Shortcrust pastry case using this recipe or use store bought

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan.

Once you have blind baked the pastry case, beat together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined.  Arrange the asparagus in the pastry case, sprinkle over the spring onion and grated cheese then gently pour over the seasoned egg and cream mixture.

Put the quiche in the oven and bake for 20 - 30 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is just set.

I am submitting this recipe to Simple and in Season hosted by Ren.

I am also submitting this recipe to the One Ingredient created by How to Cook Good Food and Franglais Kitchen.  Laura is hosting this month and the theme is Asparagus.

One Ingredient

I've also added this post to the #cookitblogit fortnightly recipe Linky over at The Diary of a Frugal Family.

Eggless Banana Cookies

Wednesday 22 May 2013

I baked these cookies this afternoon to use up some large bananas that were over-ripe.  I like to experiment and try baking treats without using eggs and have found that mashed banana can be a good substitute.  These cookies are light but full of flavour and filling, just perfect for an afternoon pick me up or after school snack.

Eggless Banana Cookies

125g butter
220g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
3 large or 4 small over-ripe bananas, mashed
225g self raising flour
45g coconut
45g rolled oats

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.  Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until pale and fluffy.

Add the mashed bananas then mix until combined.  Add the flour, oats and coconut then stir until thoroughly and completely combined.

Dollop teaspoonfuls of the mixture on to the prepared baking trays.  Make sure you leave room for the cookies to spread.

Bake for 10 minutes and leave the cookies to cool the tray for a couple of minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Our Family Meal Plan for the week of 20th May - National Vegetarian Week Version £60

Sunday 19 May 2013

It is National Vegetarian Week here in the UK from Monday 20th – Sunday 26th May, we are taking part as a family and will be following a vegetarian meal plan this week.  The lovelies at Asda have provided me with a voucher to try out their fresh fruit and vegetables this week which certainly helped with my meal planning.  Asda have a wide range of produce available such as their Extra Special Tomkin Tomatoes, brand new Extra Special Sorrento Lemons or seasonal British produce including asparagus, rhubarb and cauliflower.  I will be posting photos of our meals and feedback on the meal plan from my family on Twitter using the #asdaveggieweek hash tag.  I'll probably post some on my Facebook and Google+ pages too.

We usually have a few vegetarian meals in our weekly meal plan but having a totally meatfree meal plan will be interesting as my husband prefers to have meat in his meals.  I am hoping to make food that is so filling and delicious that he won’t miss meat, or at least won't moan about the lack of animal protein.  He did insist on a no tofu or quorn meal plan so that has made things slightly more tricky.  I do like tofu because it is so versatile and tasty if you flavour and cook it properly.  However, there's none in this meal plan to keep my husband happy. *sigh*

As usual I will be making all our bread, wraps and baked treats.  I have included the cost of flours and yeast in the meal plan.  I haven't included the cost of our drinks or some store cupboard items.

I purchased my groceries from Asda on 19th May and the cost of my shopping was £60.49.  I used My Supermarket to compare the price of my shopping and had I shopped elsewhere my groceries would’ve cost £71.20 from Sainsbury’s, £73.44 from Tesco and £74.66 from Waitrose.


We’ll be having fruit and nut wholegrain muesli with milk or wholemeal toast spread with peanut butter or vegemite with a piece of fruit for afters.  We will probably have pancakes one morning on the weekend.


All lunches will be accompanied by crudités, a pot of yoghurt and a piece of fruit.  I usually include a small baked treat as well.

Falafel wraps or egg mayo wraps or Quick Chickpea and Couscous Salad   Weekend lunches will be a mini vegetable frittatas and twice baked potatoes.


Spinach and Root Vegetable Cannelloni

500g pumpkin, peeled then diced
250g sweet potato, peeled then diced
200g frozen spinach, defrosted and any water squeezed out
6 spring onions, trimmed then thinly sliced
250g low-fat crème fraiche
black pepper, to season
4 fresh lasagne sheets, cut in half
400g tomato pasta sauce, storebought is fine
100g grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 1.5 litre (6 cup-capacity) ovenproof baking dish.

Cook the pumpkin and sweet potato in a large pan of boiling water until tender. Drain, mash roughly with a fork then set aside to cool slightly. 

In a bowl combine the mashed pumpkin and sweet potato, spring onions, spinach, creme fraiche and a few good grinds of black pepper. Mix together well.

Put 4 tablespoons of filling along the middle of each lasagne sheet.  Fold the lasagne sheet to enclose the filling. Repeat with the remaining sheets and filling.  Spread 5 tablespoons of pasta sauce over the bottom of your greased ovenproof dish.  Put the cannelloni on top in a single layer. 

Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the prepared cannelloni, sprinkle with cheese, then bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese the has melted and is bubbling. Serve with a green salad or steamed vegetables.

Mixed Bean Burgers with Wedges

400g tin mixed beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, finely diced
1 pepper, finely diced
1 tsp chilli powder
100g fresh breadcrumbs
about 500g potatoes, for the wedges

Sauté the onion and pepper in a little oil for a couple of minutes until it softens then leave to cool for a bit. Mash the mixed beans with a potato masher, leave it a little lumpy – not too smooth. Add the cooled sautéed pepper and onion along with the breadcrumbs to the mixed beans and mix everything together thoroughly. Shape into 5 burgers and fry in a little oil for a couple of minutes on each side, until they’re golden brown. Then put them in the oven at 180C for about 10 minutes until completely cooked through.

Wash the potatoes and cut them into wedges, not too thick. Put a little oil on your hands and rub the wedges so that they get lightly coated in the oil. To cook the wedges, bake them in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180C.

Serve the burgers in buns with tomato, lettuce and mayo. I sometimes sprinkle a little paprika and/or chilli powder over the wedges to give them a little more flavour.

Quinoa and Vegetable Curry

1 onion, finely sliced
2 peppers, deseeded and finely diced
4 Tblsp curry paste
400g can light coconut milk
400ml milk
750g frozen mixed vegetables
300g quinoa, rinsed

Put a large saucepan onto a moderate heat, add 2 Tblsp water then cook the onion, pepper and curry paste for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened.  Add the milks to the pan and warm through for 5 minutes before adding the quinoa and vegetables.  Bring everything to the boil and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked through.  Season to taste and serve with rice or flatbreads.

Leftover Quinoa Curry Pasties

Leftover Quinoa and Vegetable Curry
2 sheets puff pastry

Preheat your oven to 200C

Cut each sheet of pastry into thirds.  Put mounds of leftover curry on one half of each pastry third.  Fold over the other half of the pastry third and crimp with a fork to seal the edges.  Prick each pastry parcel with a fork so steam can escape during cooking.

Put on lined baking trays and cook for 20 - 25 minutes until the pastry is golden and crispy.  Serve with mango chutney and steamed vegetables.

Bean and vegetable wraps

1 pepper, diced
2 x 290g tins chilli beans
300ml low-fat soured cream
10 wholemeal tortillas
grated tasty cheese

Warm the chilli beans.  Heat the tortillas in a microwave to soften, then place on a flat surface. Spoon some chilli beans onto the middle of each tortilla.  Add a dollop of soured cream and some salad greens.  Fold up then serve immediately.

 Shopping List

43 items: £60.49
Packets and Cereals
1x   Jordans Natural Muesli (1Kg)                                                   £2.50
1x   Jus Rol Puff Pastry Block (2x500g)                                        £2.00 was £2.50
1x   Great Scot Pearl Barley (500g)                                                58p
1x   ASDA Wholefoods Cous Cous (500g)                                     68p
1x   Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g)       65p
1x   Allinson Wholemeal Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)                       £1.60
1x   ASDA Wholefoods Brown Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                       £1.28
1x   Great Scot Chick Peas (500g)                                                 95p
1x   Great Scot Quinoa (300g)                                                        £2.18

Dairy and Eggs
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Yogurts Assorted (6x125g)                 £1.00
1x   ASDA Reduced Fat Crème Fraîche (300ml)                           £1.10
4x   ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                  £4.00
1x   ASDA English Mature White Cheddar (500g)                          £2.74
1x   ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g)                   45p
1x   ASDA Low Fat Peach, P/apple & Mandarin Yogurt (6x125g) £1.00
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt (6x125g) £1.00
1x   ASDA Reduced Fat Soured Cream (300ml)                           £1.10
3x   Suffolk Farm Medium Free Range Eggs (6)                           £3.00

2x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                             £1.50
1x   ASDA Whole Leaf Spinach (1Kg)                                            £1.00 was £1.39

Tins, Jars and Cooking                                                                            
2x   ASDA Chosen by You Chilli Beans (290g)                              96p
1x   Geeta's Premium Mango Chutney (320g)                               £1.00
1x   ASDA Smartprice Mayonnaise (500ml)                                  40p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Crunchy Peanut Butter (340g)                   62p
2x   ASDA Chosen by You Green Lentils in Water (400g)             £1.24
2x   ASDA Mexican Style Bean Mix in Water (400g)                     £1.24
1x   Kingfisher Reduced Fat Coconut Milk (400ml)                        £1.19 was £1.40
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Tomato Pasta Sauce (500g)               £1.00

Fruit and Vegetables
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Stoned Apricots (500g)                       £2.98
20   ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g)                                            £1.36
20   ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g)                                              £1.60
1x   ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                                                 £2.00
7     ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g)                              70p
10   ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (100g)                                £1.28
2x   ASDA Whole Cucumber                                                          £1.00
3x   ASDA Round Lettuce                                                               £1.71
1x   ASDA Garlic Loose                                                                  30p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                                           £1.57
2x   ASDA Spring Onions                                                                £1.48
1x   ASDA Smartprice Brown Onions (2Kg)                                   98p
1x   ASDA Unwaxed Lemons (5)                                                    £1.25
4x   ASDA Smartprice Apples (500g)                                             £3.52

Ready Meals
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Fresh Egg Lasagne Sheets (250g)     80p

Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, and are correct as of 19th May 2013.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

Don't forget to check out other meal plans on the Meal Planning Monday linky hosted by At Home With Mrs M.

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