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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. 

Bring on the Bank Holiday BBQs!

Friday, 26 August 2016
The lovely people at Heinz have asked me to share some fab BBQ tips and recipes with you from none other than Josh Katz, Head Chef at Berber and Q, just in time for the Bank Holiday Weekend.  Fingers crossed there will be BBQ weather!  Even if there isn't, you can always grill under an umbrella or use your oven grill.

5 Top Tips For A Last Minute BBQ 

If you find yourself making an impromptu last-minute decision to throw a barbecue or are short on preparation time, follow these tips to get you over the line.

1) Steer clear of large joints of meat that require slow cooking, or those that really benefit from spending a long time in a marinade. Sausages, steaks and hamburgers are good options for a last-minute BBQ because the preparation time is minimal (if any) and they cook quickly on the grill. 

2) Heinz Tomato Ketchup is a great ingredient to have up your sleeve for a BBQ at short notice, because of its versatility. Use it to flavour hamburger mix or make a Sweet & Sour BBQ Sauce, but of course it’s also the perfect accompaniment to a good hot dog, the quickest and easiest of options for a last-minute BBQ. 

3) Chicken wings are a brilliant option for a last-minute barbecue because they need far less time on the grill than either the breast, legs or thigh, all of which can often burn on the outside before being cooked all the way through, especially when using a sweet marinade. 

4) Certain vegetables such as leeks, sweet corn & broccoli are brilliant just grilled simply on a BBQ with little more than a drizzle of olive oil, some salt & pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. They’re perfect as a quick-and-easy vegetable side to accompany the rest of your barbecue. Whilst the meat or fish is cooking, set about making a Heinz Sweet Chilli Sauce Butter or Charred Spring Onion Aioli (see recipe below) to turn your vegetables into a main event.

5) Use a chimney starter to get your charcoal burning in no time. They’re cheap and easy to purchase on the Internet, but are also simple and safe to use. Most importantly, they take away all the stress and time associated with building a charcoal fire. You’ll have hot burning embers that are ready to cook on in no time at all.

Heinz Peri Peri and Honey Glazed Smoked Chicken Wings

800g Chicken Wings (Approx 12 chicken wings)

For the rub
1tsp Smoked Paprika
1tsp Cayenne
½ tsp Cumin, ground
1tsp Black Pepper, coarse

For the marinade

60ml Heinz Peri-Peri Sauce
1tbsp Lemon Juice
10ml Maple Syrup

For the glaze

150ml Heinz Peri-Peri Sauce
90ml Clear Honey
30ml Lemon Juice
½ tsp Black Pepper, coarse

To garnish

1 Lemon, cut into 8 wedges
1tbsp Chopped Parsley
1 Spring Onion thinly sliced

Start by preparing the rub. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together thoroughly.  Toss the chicken wings in the rub so that each wing is coated liberally.

Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and pour over the rubbed chicken wings. Allow the wings to marinate for 2 to 4 hours or preferably overnight.

Whilst the wings are marinating, prepare the glaze by combining all of the ingredients in a pan and reducing over a medium to high heat by approximately 25%.

Fire up the barbecue for direct grilling over high heat, but bank the coals to one side (if possible). Grill your wings, turning regularly whilst basting with the glaze, until the skin is crisp and slightly charred and they are completely cooked through (approximately 15-20 minutes). Should the wings start to crisp on the outside too much, before being cooked all the way through, transfer them to the other side of your grill where they are not directly positioned above the coals, and place the lid on the barbecue. This will turn your barbecue into an oven of sorts, and enable the wings to continue cooking through without burning.

Remove your wings from the grill and serve immediately with the lemon wedges, blackened on the grill and squeezed over the top, and some chopped parsley strewn all over.  Season to taste.

For a step by step of the above recipe, check out this video clip:

BBQ Whole Head of Broccoli, Harissa and Charred Spring Onion Aioli

1 Head of Broccoli
20ml Olive Oil
½ tsp Black Pepper, coarse

For the Charred Spring Onion Aioli
80ml Heinz Salad Cream
50g Crème Fraiche
2 Spring Onions, blackened on the grill & finely chopped
1 Garlic Clove, minced or finely chopped
15ml Olive Oil
15ml Lemon Juice

For Garnish
2tbsp Harissa
3 Anchovies (optional)
1tbsp toasted Hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Start by blanching the whole head of broccoli in some boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove from the water and refresh in a bowl of iced water.

Make the Charred Spring Onion Aioli by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl thoroughly.

Fire up the barbecue for direct grilling over high heat. Whilst the fire is coming to temperature, roll the broccoli in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the broccoli atop the burning coals until lightly blackened and crisp all over.

Remove the broccoli from the grill and serve on a base of the Charred Spring Onion Aioli, with some reserved for spooning over the top, along with the harissa, the chopped hazelnuts and anchovies (if using) ripped into a few pieces.  Season to taste.

Seared Duck Breast with Heinz Classic Barbecue sauce, Molasses and Soy Marinade

2 Duck Breasts, trimmed of excess fat

For the rub
1tsp Fennel Seeds
1tsp Chilli Flakes
1tsp Salt (Preferably Maldon Flaked)
½ tsp Black Pepper, coarse
Zest of ½ an Orange

For the marinade
45g Heinz Classic Barbecue Sauce
30ml Soy Sauce
20ml Apple Juice
½ tbsp Pomegranate Molasses
1 Garlic Clove, minced or finely chopped
30ml Maple Syrup

For the glaze
100g Honey
60g Heinz Classic Barbecue Sauce
40ml Cider Vinegar

For Garnish
2 Leeks, tough dark green outer leaves removed & cut in half
1 small Red Onions, cut into quarters
1 Baby Gem Lettuce, cut into quarters
40ml Olive Oil
1tbsp Salt (preferably Maldon flaked)
1tsp Black Pepper, coarse
Handful of Pomegranate Seeds
Handful of picked Flat-leaf Parsley leaves
20ml Pomegranate molasses
100g Crème Fraiche

To prepare the duck breasts, trim away any excess fat, score the skin and remove any unwanted sinew. 

Prepare the rub for the duck breasts by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl and mixing together thoroughly. Rub all over the duck to ensure they are evenly covered.

Make the marinade by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl and stirring to combine. Toss the duck breasts in the marinade and allow to marinate for 4 to 6 hours or preferably overnight.

Prepare the glaze by combining all of the ingredients together in a pan, bringing to the boil, and reducing by 25%.

Fire up the barbecue for direct grilling over a medium to high heat, but bank the coals to one side (if possible). Grill the duck breasts directly over the coals, skin-side down, and allow to cook until the skin turns golden brown. Baste the duck breasts intermittently with the prepared glaze, and continue to cook by turning regularly and glazing. Should the breasts start to blacken on the outside too much, before being cooked all the way through, transfer them to the other side of your grill where they are not directly positioned above the coals, and place the lid on the barbecue. This will turn your barbecue into an oven of sorts, and enable the duck to continue cooking through without burning. 

Cook the duck to desired preference, 5-7 minutes for medium-rare, 7-9 minutes for medium, and longer than 9 minutes for medium to well done. Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 3 minutes.

Whilst the duck is resting, prepare the garnish salad by rolling the leeks, red onions and baby gem in olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables on direct heat until charred and softened. 

Serve the duck breast thinly sliced alongside the grilled vegetables drizzled with pomegranate molasses and with picked parsley leaves and pomegranate seeds strewn over the top. A dollop of Crème Fraiche alongside is added for cooling and to cut through the sharpness of the molasses.

For a step by step of the above recipe, check out this video clip:

**Sponsored Post**

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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