Monday, 29 June 2015

Crispy M&Ms Chocolate Traybake

Readers, just a quick post from me tonight as it’s a Sunday evening and I really should be getting set for work.  I know my traybake posts are incredibly popular with all my readers, so I have a simple twist on a mars bar cake, to appeal to you all.  I added crunchy M&Ms.  It’s like the ultimate chocolate indulgence and the crisps shells on top, just add a little something.

This can be whipped up in half an hour and is an easy bake to try with youngsters – they’ll enjoy sticking the sweets on the top!

Happy Baking!
crispy m&m traybake

Crispy M&M Chocolate Traybake

Ingredients (serves 9)

75g butter
2 heaped dessert spoons golden syrup
3 full sized Mars Bars – chopped into a small pieces
2 cups puffed rice cereal
200g milk chocolate
Share sized bag of crispy M&Ms (the blue pack)

Method


  1. Melt the butter, syrup and chopped mars bars on a medium heat, stir occasionally.  Keep an eye on the mix – you don’t want it burning, but it will start to bubble.   Whilst melting, prepare a silicone 8in x 8in square baking tin with baking parchment.  
  2. Once melted, stir to combine all ingredients.  Stir in the cup of rice cereal, then stir in the second cup until fully coated.   Transfer the mix to the baking tin and spread out to form a flat top. 
  3. Transfer to the fridge to set, for at least 1 hour.
  4. Melt the milk chocolate in a microwave proof bowl at 30 second intervals until melted.  Stir every 30 seconds.  Remove the tray from the fridge and pour the chocolate on the top – spread evenly to form a topping.   Allow to cool for a few moments then finish off with the crispy M&Ms.  Allow to set in the fridge for around 30 minutes. 
  5. Once set, return to room temperature and cut into 9 pieces, then serve. 



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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Bacon & Cheese Loaded Potato Skins

Readers, apologies to those of you who are the loyal cake fans.  I’ve been super busy these last few months and baking has become a special occasion thing, rather than regular.   I’m aware my posts have been more foodie related (and savoury) which I hope hasn’t turned you off reading?

I’d like to think I’m bringing some new home cooking ideas to your kitchens (or living rooms as you watch Eastenders) and that you’ve learnt something on this journey with me.

I apologise in advance – this is definitely not the healthiest recipe in the world.  But when you want comfort food, this ticks all the boxes.

Ready in around half an hour, they are easily prepared after work and fillings can be adapted to your desires.  I’m a huge fan of bacon and cheese… I’d have it with everything given half the chance.  If only it wasn’t as unhealthy.  But as a one off, get stuck in!

bacon and cheese potato skins


Cheese and Bacon Potato Skins

Ingredients

Serves 2 as a snack lunch (or starter)
2 large baking potatoes
4 slices of unsmoked bacon (chopped)
2 teaspoons soured cream – plus more to top
2 teaspoons chopped chives
Grated cheddar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c (fan).
  2. Wash and dry your potatoes and prick the skins.
  3. Cook individually in the microwave for 8-10 mins until almost cooked.
  4. Cut each potato in half – watch, hot!! – and scoop out the filling into a bowl.
  5. Stir in 2 teaspoons of soured cream to the potato filling and set aside.
    Mix in the soured cream 
  6. Rub the outside of the skins with olive oil and season. Transfer to the oven for 10 minutes to crisp up.
  7. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into small pieces and fry in a pan.  The fat will be enough – don’t add any oil. 
  8. Once cooked, dry off on a paper towel and mix half into the potato filling and leave half to top once filled.
    Add the filling
  9. Remove the skins from the oven and fill with the potato and bacon mix.  Top with grated cheese and return to the oven for 15 minutes to warm through.  
    Transfer back to the oven to melt the cheese and warm filling
  10. Top with a dollop of soured cream and sprinkle the chopped chives on top.


(I also served this with a side salad of rocket drizzled in olive oil with a splash of lemon and black pepper) 

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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Peanut Butter and Jelly Mug Cake

Readers, I had a cake craving tonight.  It came over me like nothing on earth.  I wanted sweet, sweet cake… and fast.  Thus leading me to the microwave.

I’ve never made a microwave mug cake before – it still feels “dirty” making a cake in the microwave but using one mug, no bowls, store cupboard ingredients and spoon, with a result in less than 5 minutes ticked every box tonight.

Aaaand… it’s made without flour, so suitable for our gluten free friends as well.

Thanks to Kirbie Cravings for the base recipe, which I added to.


Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake 

Ingredients (makes 1 cake)

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon baking powder (gluten free)
6 x ½ teaspoons of jam of your choice

Method

  1. Spoon peanut butter, sugar, egg and baking powder into your microwave proof mug.  Whisk to combine to a smooth mixture.
  2. Add your jam at various points in the mix and add a little on the top.
  3. Microwave for 1 minute at 800w.  If it’s not quite ready, put back in for another 30 secs.  Be careful not to overcook.
  4. Remove, from microwave, cool for a moment and eat! 


Monday, 8 June 2015

Restaurant Review: Ziggys St Andrews

Readers, we are doing something a little different for tonight’s post.  I’ve been out reviewing again. 

Last week, I went to Ziggys in St Andrews. It’s a fabulous little sixties themed place, with music memorabilia on the walls, a fabulous soundtrack and a real varied menu.

Located down in Murray Place, I have to confess, despite numerous visits to St Andrews over the years, I’ve never actually been to Ziggys.  It’s a bit of a blink and you miss it, unless you spot the guitar sign outside.

My friend and I were welcomed to the restaurant by some very friendly waitresses in Ziggys tshirts.  Despite the staff not having our reservation in the book, this caused no issue.  The waitress quickly found us a table and even allocated us one for four people, so we’d have plenty of room to stretch out.

Drinks orders were taken quickly and we were delighted to be given a small bowl of nachos and salsa to share whilst we ordered our starters and mains.
ziggys st andrews
Welcome nachos


The menu is a mix of American style classics – there’s an extensive selection of burgers on offer, as well as steaks, ribs, some locally sourced fish and meat dishes.  For a small venue, they do have a vast selection to suit all.

My friend started her night with Cajun Shroomies – breaded mushrooms which came with a side salad and dip.  The portion was incredibly generous for £4.95 but like the trooper she is, she ploughed on.  I love potato skins and I wasn’t disappointed by the cheese and bacon ones I ordered.  They arrived with a salad and a dip of sour cream and chive. This was a great start to our meal.
ziggys st andrews
Cheese & Bacon Potato Skins

ziggys st andrews
Cajun Shroomies
Next up came the main courses. I chose something from The Dixie Chix portion of the menu- bacon, cheese and hickory sauce chicken served with mashed potato and Mediterranean vegetables.  I went for cheddar on top which was great with the bacon.    For £12.95, I felt this was more than reasonable, given the portion size.
Ziggys St Andrews
Delicious!

Meanwhile my dining partner went for a spicy chicken burrito.   It came with a side of rice and some toppings.  Again the portion sizes were generous and my friend commented that the chicken was definitely spicy – good if you like your spicy chicken spicy!  
Ziggys st andrews
Spicy Chicken Burrito


Both of us felt the Ziggys’ experience was good – the only thing we both commented on was portion size – whilst we like value for money (and we certainly got this) we both felt that the portions were big for a standard appetite.  Perhaps if we’d gone for a main and dessert, we’d have felt less full, but after our delicious starters, and our nachos, we’d filled ourselves up a bit more than we’d have liked.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the staff were attentive – without being intrusive.   We were happily left alone with a drink after we’d settled up and nobody rushed us.  Granted, it was a Tuesday night and the venue was busy but not full, however, we did appreciate the gesture.

All in all, I’d return to Ziggy’s or suggest it to friends.  It’s a great venue for a group of friends, or family looking for a casual dining experience of an evening or weekend lunch.

The restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, from 12pm til late, with extended opening hours from June 2015.

For reservations contact 01334 473 686.

Disclaimer: I was given the opportunity to review eat at the restaurant in return for a review.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Homemade Falafel

Readers, I went off on a food adventure this week.  I attempted to make the humble falafel.  Mr WhatClaireBaked loves a falafel.  We aren’t sure of the origin of these – perhaps readers can help me out?

We believe these are middle eastern, but they also feature heavily within Greek restaurants.   Recently in Brussels, we uncovered an amazing Greek take out for late night wraps, which had falafel hidden in the bottom.

Last week we had our own theme night, with homemade tzatziki, chicken gyros in pittas and the falafel as an accompaniment.

These are quite time consuming, although I did manage these on a Monday night and we had dinner by 8pm, so not the worst.

Please, please, please don’t skip the chilling or freezing part – they won’t work.  Also, make sure the oil temperature is always at 350F or they won’t cook.  You could make these in the oven, but I wanted to push the boat out and deep fry them, the proper way.

Happy Falafeling!

Falafel Balls
falafel

Ingredients (makes around 18 pieces)

1 can chickpeas
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Zest and Juice of 1 lime
½ red onion
1 teapsoon parlsley
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/6 cup plain flour

Method

  1. In a food processor, blitz chickpeas, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, lime juice and zest and the chopped onion.  Start to pulse.  Add in the herbs and pulse some more.  The mix may need scraped from the sides of the processor.  Blitz until paste like.
    Start to blitz, then add herbs

    Make a paste, then add the remaining dry ingredients and mix
  2. Transfer to a bowl and add the baking powder, salt and flour.  Thoroughly mix in.
  3. Refrigerate the mix for 2 hours or if pushed for time, freeze for around 50 minutes.
  4. When time is up, remove from the freezer and shape into 18 equally sized round pieces.  I used a melon baller to help with this.
  5. Pour sunflower oil into a deep, heavy based pan, to around 2.5in up from the base and heat.  Using a sugar thermometer, keep an eye on the temperature until it reaches 350F.  Don’t put the falafel in before this.
  6. Cook in batches of 6.  Drop into the oil and cook for 3 minutes, then turn falafel and cook for another 3 minutes.
  7. Drain on kitchen towel to mop up excess oil and serve immediately, with tzatziki. 
    falafel


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Monday, 1 June 2015

Product Review - The Foodie Market at Aldi

Readers, tonight’s post is a review of some tasty snacks found over at Aldi.  Yes, you heard right… Aldi.

No longer said quietly, under your breath, Aldi lead the movement in taking your own bags to the supermarket (or leaving with cardboard boxes).  Aldi is the new middle class supermarket of choice.  At weekend’s the Audi and Range Rover brigade squeeze themselves into the parking spaces and attack the middle aisle baskets with gusto. Picking up everything from discounted cookware, to a welder and coordinating safety accessories (yes that was my Dad).

Whilst on the way round, shoppers can pick up some of the new Foodie Market snack range – located at the checkout, just so you know.

The lovely people at Aldi’s PR team sent me some samples of the 5 fruit and seed bars in various flavours, as well as some of their oat and seed crackers.
Aldi - The Foodie Market Snacks

The fruit and seed bars come in a range of flavours and the selection I have are all less than 100kcal per bar.  I’ve been trying my best not to get carried away with snacking, so these are great for a mid morning snack at work.  I feel they fill me up too – and  I don’t feel too guilty about eating them.  Coming In at £1.49 a box for 5 bars, these are kind of the purse and would do a week’s worth of office snacks.

My least favourite was the apple, carrot and seed bars – they weren’t bad, just a little too bland for my liking.

So far, my favourite is the blackcurrant and seed bars (they are the the ones in the purple box).   I love the packaging of these bars – it’s fun, bright and appealing.   Also, the coloured wrappers are good for bottomless handbags.  Unlikely to get lost.
My favourite of the three sent

Next up, I enjoyed some of the chia and oat crispbreads.  I’m not normally one for things resembling cardboard, but I have to say, these were really good. Mr WhatClaireBaked was sent off to the office with a pack for snacking and soup accompaniment.

I also took mine to work and enjoyed a healthy packed lunch.  I topped mine with reduced fat red pepper humus and finished with cooked chicken breast.   It was easily assembled at work and was healthier than a sandwich. 3 of these filled me up curbed my afternoon snacking.
the foodie market Aldi
My lunch!
All in all, I enjoyed my snack selection.  The items are good value, the packaging appeals to the person on the go – whether it’s post workout fruit and seed bars, or just to keep in the car for between meetings, I’d buy these again.


Disclaimer: I was send a selection of samples from Aldi, to review.  Any opinions expressed are my own.