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Cheats Churros Boats with Mojito Soaked Fruit Salad

Wednesday 31 August 2016
After making these delicious Beef Fajitas using mini Stand ’N’ Stuff tortillas from Old El Paso, I decided to try making a sweet recipe that would make a great party dessert.  The mini tortillas are available in packs of 12 from all major supermarkets with a RRP of £2.39. For more delicious recipe inspiration visit the Old El Paso website or find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using @oldelpasouk and the hashtag #MiniMexican.

The little boat shaped soft tortillas, perfect for little hands to grab, and great for party food, were just begging to be brushed with melted butter and coated with cinnamon sugar.  I baked them until crisp and filled them with a delicious fruit salad that had been soaked in a mojito inspired syrup.  When topped with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream they were a very welcome tasty pudding treat on a very hot summer evening.  

You could of course make them more healthy by skipping the syrup and using natural yoghurt instead of ice cream on top of the fruit but I wanted decadent deliciousness not virtuous and low calorie. 

Cheats Churros Boats 
with Mojito Soaked Fruit Salad

12 Mini Stand and Stuff Tortillas
75g butter, melted
100g sugar
1 or 2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 or 4 cups of fresh fruit, peeled if necessary, cut into small chunks
100ml lime juice
100g sugar
50ml water
50ml white rum (optional)
small sprig of fresh mint.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a bowl.  Melt the butter. Brush the mini tortillas with melted butter and then toss in cinnamon sugar to coat.  Place on a lined oven tray and bake at 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6 for 7 - 10 minutes.  The mini tortillas will crisp up as they cool.

Mix together the lime juice, sugar and water.  Heat gently, stirring until sugar dissolves, add the mint, then leave to cool completely.  Mix in rum, only if serving to grown ups.  Pour the syrup over the prepared fruit, just enough to lightly coat the fruit, and leave to soak and chill in the fridge for around half an hour.  Any leftover syrup can be used to make mojito cocktails.  

Put the syrup soaked fruit into the crisp mini tortillas then top with a scoop of ice cream and freshly grated lime zest.  Serve immediately.

**Recipe commissioned by Old El Paso**

Beef Fajitas

Tuesday 30 August 2016
I was asked to create a delicious filling for these cute mini Stand ’N’ Stuff tortillas from Old El Paso. They are little boat shaped soft tortillas, perfect for little hands to grab and great for party food as well as brilliant for lunch boxes now that school is back in session after the summer holidays.

I decided to make some super quick Beef Fajitas, you could use leftover cooked chicken too, or minced meat instead of stir fry thinly sliced meat. Packed with peppers and onions, and accompanied by a freshly made tomato salsa, these fajitas make a great dinner with a side salad - perfect for busy weeknights.

The mini tortillas are available in packs of 12 from all major supermarkets with a RRP of £2.39. For more delicious recipe inspiration visit the Old El Paso website or find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using @oldelpasouk and the hashtag #MiniMexican.

You could use beef mince instead of stir fry beef, or even leftover cooked chicken.  This was a really tasty dinner that was whipped up in no time and liked by all of my family, definitely one we will be adding to our Meal Plan.

Beef Fajitas

Taco Seasoning
2 tsp mild chilli powder
2 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin

Mix together and use immediately or store in an airtight jar.

4 tomatoes, finely diced
1 onion, finely dived
2 Tblsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 chilli, seeds removed and finely diced

Mix together, blend with a hand blender if you want a smoother salsa, then leave in the fridge until needed to give the flavours a chance to develop.

Herbed Soured Cream
150ml soured cread
fresh chives and coriander, finely chopped

Mix together the soured cream and herbs, then leave in the fridge until needed to give the flavours a chance to develop.

Beef Fajitas
400g stir fry beef
2 peppers, finely sliced
2 onions, finely sliced
2 Tblsp Taco Seasoning
150ml water
2 tsp cornflour
2 Tblsp water

Put a little oil into a large frying pan over a moderately high heat, add the peppers and onion.  Cook until the pepper and onions have softened then add the beef and cook, stirring all the time, until the beef has cooked through.  Add the taco seasoning and cook until fragrant, add the water and mix well.  Cook for a couple of minutes then mix the cornflour and water together and stir through to thicken the sauce.

Serve in tortillas with salad, salsa and herbed soured cream.  Squeeze a little lime juice over if you wish and sprinkle with fresh coriander to garnish.

**Recipe commissioned by Old El Paso**

Giant Jaffa Cake (Vegan)

Sunday 28 August 2016
We enjoy watching The Great British Bake Off and trying out the bakes that the contestants have to make each week.  This week one of the tasks was to bake some Jaffa Cakes.  On the show they made standard small Jaffa Cakes but I thought that would be too much faff and decided to make a Giant Jaffa Cake instead.

I had to remake my jelly as the first batch didn't set firmly enough, but apart from that it was a fairly straight forward bake.  My family devoured some for pudding this evening, and there's still some leftover for a treat with a cuppa tomorrow.  

Giant Jaffa Cake (Vegan)

125g plain flour
125g caster sugar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp tsp salt
125ml dairy free milk
30g oil (I used vegetable/rapeseed oil)
4tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

400ml orange juice
5g Agar Agar

400g Dairy free Dark Chocolate, chopped/broken into small chunks

To make the sponge:
Preheat oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4  Grease and line a 20cm/8inch cake tin

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients together in a jug until completely combined.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Pour the cake batter into your prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the jelly:
Bring the fruit juice to the boil in a pan and sprinkle the agar agar powder on top. Stir in and boil for 2-3 minutes then remove from the heat, pour into a lined 20cm/8 inch cake tin, and leave to cool and set.
Carefully turn out the jelly onto the top of the sponge cake.  Put in the fridge to chill whilst you prepare the topping.

To make the topping:
Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Once completely melted, leave to cool slightly then pour over the cake.  

I've added this post to the We Should Cocoa linky over at Tin and Thyme.

I'm entering this bake into the Great Bloggers Bake Off linky, hosted by Mummy Mishaps.

Mummy Mishaps

Brunch Bread Bake (Breakfast Strata)

Saturday 27 August 2016
I am a big fan of volunteering, you learn new skills and meet new people whilst helping in the community.  I encourage my children to volunteer and help out where and when they can too.  My 16yo has been helping cook a Community Lunch each week during the school Summer Holidays and they gave her a delicious loaf of bread to bring home that was leftover from the lunch.

I decided to use the loaf of bread for our brunch this morning, and also use up some bacon that was heading towards the use by date, along with a pepper and some spring onions that were languishing in our vegetable draw in the fridge.

This bake would make a delicious lunch or dinner, you can vary the ingredients depending on what you have available.  Chorizo would be delicious instead of bacon, or chopped leftover ham could be used instead.  A vegetarian option would also be scrumptious with corn, pepper, spring onions, perhaps some grated carrot or courgette, or leftover roast vegetables.

Brunch Bread Bake

300g bacon, diced
6 free range eggs
375ml milk
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper, to taste
400g loaf stale bread, preferably slightly stale, roughly diced in 2cm chunks
1 pepper, finely diced
2 spring onions, green and white parts, finely sliced
2 large handfuls of grated cheddar cheese

Heat a large non stick pan over high heat and cook bacon until lightly browned.  Remove from pan and set aside to cool.  

Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together in a bowl or jug.

Put the prepared bread into a large resealable bag then pour in the egg mixture.  Seal the bag, massage slightly to mix the bread and egg mixture together.  Put in the fridge for at least half an hour to allow the bread to soak up the egg mixture.  Finely dice the pepper and thinly slice the spring onion, both green and white parts.   

Preheat oven to 180C/160C Fan350F/Gas Mark 4.

Line a 20cm cake tin with non-stick baking paper.  Add the almost all the cooked bacon and grated cheese, all of the pepper and spring onion to the bag of bread and mix through.  Pour the bread mixture into the prepared cake tin, squish down to level then scatter over a the leftover bacon and cheese. 

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until cooked through and golden on top.  Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from the tin and cutting into slices to serve. 

Baking on a Budget

Monday 22 August 2016
Getting your bake on doesn't have to break the bank!  If you're inspired by The Great British Bake off, baking from scratch, without using packet premixes, is cheap and easy.  Despite what The Great British Bake Off implies, baking is fairly straight forward.  With a few basic techniques you can create tasty treats at home in no time.  Baking like any new skill, the more you practise, the better you will be at it.

Beginners baking tips

Measure accurately.  Baking is essentially chemistry and you'll get a better result if you ensure all of the ingredients are measured accurately.  Too much or too little of an ingredient can really affect the end result.

Have ingredients at room temperature.  Butter and eggs should be at room temperature as they will emulsify better during the mixing process.  Take butter and eggs out of the fridge at around half an hour to an hour before you bake with them.

Always preheat the oven.  If the oven isn’t hot then you could well end up with flat, greasy baking that is over/undercooked.

Don’t leave your mixture waiting around.  Make sure you are ready to put your bakes into the oven as soon as the batter is mixed.  This is because the raising agents start working once mixed with liquids so your bakes may end up flat if you dither about before baking them.  For example, if you want to make a double batch of muffins, but only own one muffin tin, it is much better to mix up the second batch whilst the first batch is cooking.

Video clips can be very helpful if you want to see a recipe step by step.  Being able to replay, pause, and go through a recipe at your own pace makes learning to bake a lot easier.  Most of the major baking websites have technique videos and basic recipes shown step by step.

Our Budget Baking Top Tips

Buy basics ingredients.  No need for expensive flour, it's all the same just dressed up in different packaging.  For around 50p you can buy a bag of budget range plain or self raising flour, no need to spend over £1 on a posh version of the same thing.  You can also use 2 tsp of baking powder per 150g of plain flour should you run out of self raising flour or want to save money by only purchasing one type of flour.

Likewise with sugar, normal sugar will suffice most of the time.  Buy caster sugar if you want but for most cakes and muffins, granulated sugar is fine and much less expensive.  Adding a tablespoon of golden syrup along with normal or caster sugar is a good substitute for light soft brown sugar, and much cheaper too.

Check the reduced or clearance aisles for ingredients and equipment.  Quite often you can purchase fruit, vegetables, and eggs at very reduced prices.  Baking tins and other equipment can also be heavily discounted due to end of line specials or if they are certain colours or novelty items at particular times of the year.

Don't buy baking beans, use budget rice instead.  You can reuse the rice too.  A 500g bag of basics value range rice costs around 50p and can be used and reused as instead of baking beans, just keep in a labelled container once cooled.

Don't buy buttermilk.  Substitute natural yoghurt instead or add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to milk and wait 5 minutes for it to curdle.

Choose your recipe carefully.  If you're a novice baker and searching out recipes online, read reviews of the recipe should there be any available.  If the recipe has proved tricky or not been successful for a number of reviewers you're better off choosing another recipe to try rather than wasting ingredients.

Start with the basics.  It's best to start with simple recipes that can be adapted as you master new techniques.  Don't start with complex bakes which could easily go wrong and knock your confidence, as well as waste ingredients.

Basic Equipment

A set of measuring cups, spoons, and/or scales. Electronic kitchen scales can be purchased from supermarkets for around £5.  Measuring cups can cost as little as £2.  The £1 Shop or similar retailers also stock baking equipment.  A measuring jug, mixing bowl, wooden spoon and spatula can all be purchased from £1 shops or supermarket basic ranges.

You do not need a large selection of bakeware.  A muffin tin, round cake tin (20cm), a loaf tin and cookie sheet/baking tray should allow you to bake a wide variety of recipes.  

Here are a few recipes to get you started

What are your top budget baking tips?

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