Cupcake crazy

To celebrate National Cupcake week, I was sent some Cupcake books to look at (well, also to make some of the recipes).

I was sent Cupcakes by Sue McMahon, Special Cupcakes by Wendy Sweetser, and Divine Cupcakes by Tamara Jane, which are all published by New Holland Publishers here– you can also check out their facebook page here.

All the recipes look amazing (click on the names to have a look on amazon where you can “look inside”).

Cupcakes has several pages devoted to various toppings (how good does toffee topping sound?)- “normal” ones like butter-cream and cream cheese frosting, and fancier ones like swiss meringue butter-cream. It also has a little “special diets” section in the back.

Special Cupcakes is divided into different sections- party time, seasonal celebtrations, romance, cakes for kids to name a few. Sweet potato and orange cupcakes jumped out at me from this book.

Divine Cupcakes is filled with cupcakes (with the most beautiful photography and amazing decorations), then at the end there is a section for different frostings/ icings, and then a section for decorating tips (how to make sugar roses, or chocolate twirls)- I would need a steady hand there!

I could not resist the brownie cupcakes from Cupcakes, so that was what I made first. I loved that the recipe had 2 eggs, because then it was easy to only make half.

Yum- that is melted chocolate and butter, and a bowl with sugar and a whisked egg. Plus some scrumptious dark chocolate chips from Beyond dark.

They are more like little chocolate puddles than chocolate chips, but so so yummy.

The batter ready to go into the oven. The batter was super easy to make and smelled totally amazing.

When they came out- I love the appearance of the tops- like real mini brownies. The recipe had chocolate ganache as the topping, but I had no cream. It did say to leave that out for a less rich cupcake, so I went for middle ground.

Some whole earth dark chocolate spread, plus a few more chocolate chips.

Now to enjoy one while looking over all the other fabulous sounding recipes. 🙂

I also had a few bananas a bit past their best, so I decided to make the banana toffee cupcakes from Cupcakes too. Although I had used all my cupcake cases so I made them in mini loaf cases (and some in a bigger one too).

Looking lovely in their mini loaf case things.

And then with the toffee topping- this was really easy to make (and could be used on top of loads of different cupcakes)- I made it in the microwave (although it did bubble over) and made them a little more special. I took these to work (well I kept us a couple to share) and they were a total hit- I think everyone was really impressed that I made the toffee topping and that it was not out of a tin, and it really was very easy to make.

Alas now I have run out of eggs (for now, until I visit my Mum again) so the baking shall have to cease! But I am sure you will see more recipes from these books popping up pretty soon.

So- look inside one of them on amazon (click on their names above), and tell me what you would love to see me bake on this blog! 🙂

WIAW- body pumping

Hey all

It is that time of the week already! Thanks to Jenn for hosting the party as usual.

This week I chose Thursday, which meant I felt super organised!


Chopped apple, rude health muesli and some almond milk. I got the almond milk from Ocado, but I have seen it in other shops (Holland and Barrett I think). Also you can like them on facebook and they tell you where to buy it from too. 😉

Lunch and snacks;

Lunch was a lovely hummus and roasted pepper sandwich, chopped pear and chopped nectarine. Nakd bar mid morning, and a mini eat natural bar after work.


Wholewheat pasta with peppers, courgette and green pesto. This would be nice with cheese but at the moment I am not having much cheese.

Post body pump snack (boy I needed this- that class is hard and I went up with the squats and back weights).

A slice of apple crumble bar, and alpro vanilla dessert. Yum.

Health (?) update- I took the antibiotics all weekend, but did not really make much difference, so I was off work Monday and Tuesday. I went back to the doctors Tuesday, and was given “the better ones” this time (same ones that I had twice before this year) and they are already working! So back to work today, but no run after work as I am not 100% yet. I am hoping I will be well enough for body pump tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Random question- those people that make their own almond milk- what do you use to strain it? I have been looking on Lakeland but can’t find anything that jumps out at me (cheese cloth? Muslin squares?). Cheers.

Simple bean and vegetable bake

I often have this for dinner, but when I was searching on here the other day I realised I have never put the recipe on this blog- shocking!

It is loosely based on a Rachel Allen recipe from her Bake book, called simple sausage and bean bake. This makes 2 big portions and it is easily adapted to make it veggie/ non veggie without loads of pans (so ideal for me and Andy).

Preheat the oven to 220C.

If using actual sausages, pierce them and cook them in the oven in a dish for 10 mins while you get the rest ready.

Chop a red onion and soften in a pan- use a little spray oil.

Once the onion is softened, add 2 chopped peppers (can add other veggies here- we sometimes add courgette as that goes quite well). Once they are softened, add a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Then add one tin of chopped tomatoes, one tin of drained cannelini beans, some dried basil and some garlic paste (although sometimes I leave out the garlic- you could also add chilli here).

Mine is on the left, and Andy (with sausages) on the right- an easy meal to please veggies and meat eaters- although he does eat it without meat sometimes too.

Place this in an ovenproof dish. If using sausages, pour it over the top. (As Andy has this with sausages, we do 2 separate dishes. I did used to add veggie sausages to mine, but they stopped making the ones I liked, so I just have it without now).

Bake for 35 mins. Optional- 5 mins from the end top with some mozzerella. Or top with a little grated cheddar once it come out of the oven.

Serve with some delicious bread, like my seedy bread.

This is so delicious! I think I might try adding sundried tomatoes to the mix to amp up that flavour. Something about the cannelini beans and the bread just go so well together, and I find it so filling and a really warming comforting dinner. It really only takes ten minutes to do the chopping and cooking, then just leave it to bake while you get on with other things (like reading blogs, how handy– or having a shower if you just got back from a run).

Also, on a totally off-topic rant, I came across this news article, about vegetarian labelled foods in restaurants containing meat. Have you ever been given something that turned out to be non-vegetarian? Recently I was given a ham and cheese roll on a BA flight. A long time ago in France I was given a cheese croissant which turned out to contain ham, and in the USA some vegetable soup which had big beef chunks in it. I do get annoyed with resturants that label items vegetarian when they contain parmesan too, but that is another issue for another day!

I have been ‘appley baking

(happily- get it?)

Yes, I have been getting a little obsessed with apples. You may realise I love them anyway- often having one for breakfast or lunch. I was given a big bag by my parents, so have been enjoying baking with them.

Last week I made some apple crumble bars. I based them on this berry crumble bar recipe by Katie.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Into a bowl I mixed 1.5 cups of flour (mixture of plain and wholegrain spelt), 1/2tsp baking powder, 1/2cup sugar (should be brown but I only had golden), 1 tbs melted coconut butter, 2tbs almond milk and a lot of cinnamon!

I sprinkled half into a dish and pressed it down quite firmly.

Then chop up some apples- I think I used 4 or 5 small ones, but next time I would use more- maybe double to have a massive apple layer in the middle. Mix these in a bowl with 3 tbs maple syrup, and 1 tsp vanilla, and then pour this over the base. Top with the remaining crumble mixture.

Bake for 45 mins.

When I take it out of the oven, I ease the edge of the bars away from the dish, but leave until cool to slice and remove from the dish.

Then enjoy with some custard 🙂 (well, this is alpro vanilla but it tastes the same).

Then I made some dried apple rings. I keep seeing them (and other dried fruits) in blog-land, so had a go at my own.

I cored and sliced some apples, sprinkled them with cinnamon, and then baked them in an low heat oven (100C) for about 2 1/2 hours.

While they were baking I was flicking on the TV and saw someone make these on Market Kitchen- how topical! She used hers to top an apple cheesecake which sounded lovely.

These are so tasty! I had these little vacuum pots from Lakeland, which are perfect for storing them- although I don’t think they will last long!

I also made some bread- I have posted one of my bread recipes before, but that was a cinnamon raisin bread. So here is my seedy bread. Makes one mini loaf.

First I start off the yeast- I use quick yeast but I still get better results if I do this first. By that I mean I put some warm water in a cup (a normal cup with maybe 100ml water in it?), 1 tsp yeast and a pinch of sugar, plus a tablespoon of bread flour in the cup. I leave it until the yeast bubbles. (If doing sundried tomato bread, chop up the dried tomatoes and add them to this- they will soak up some of the water and that is lovely).

Then in a separate bowl I weigh out 150g bread flour- I prefer a mixture of wholewheat and white, and I love canadian flour for this. I add a sprinkle of herbs- I love rosemary here. Also add a pinch of salt. When the yeast mixture bubbles, pour it into the bowl and mix it a bit with a spoon. It may look too wet/dry in places, but do not worry. Turn it out and knead gently- it should all come together after a few mins of kneading. Put it back into the bowl and cover with cling film. Now, if I am making it for the next day, I put it in the fridge. If not, leave it out to rise.

(This was in the fridge overnight, so I took it out for a bit to kick start the yeast again)

When it has doubled in size, knead it again and add in some seeds- I used the food doctor seed mix here. Then put it in a lightly oiled small loaf tin, and leave to rise again.

About to knead the seeds in above, below in the tin after rising again.

Then bake in the oven (200C) for about 35 mins.

Get your boyfriend to slice it because it is too hot to handle!

Serve with vegetable and bean bake. Mmmmm.

I have been at home from work, as the antibiotics do not seem to be working. So I rang the doctors and they told me to go back tomorrow once I have totally finished the course (it was only a 3 day course). I am getting a little fed up- today was the perfect day for a run or for some gardening, or even a walk, but I was not up to any of that. Plus I always feel bad when calling in sick to work. Can’t be helped though.

Fave apple recipe?

Sweet potato crazy

Hey all, hope you all had a lovely weekend.

Earlier in the week I finally got around to making sweet potato fries, and I am in love!!!

Yummy! I chopped up half of one (which was 100g) and coated it in a little melted coconut oil (from coconoil) and sprinkled with paprika.

I also made some sweet potato burgers. I did not have any kidney beans so this time I used lentils instead.

I microwaved 1 1/2 sweet potatoes, scraped out the filling and then whizzed it up with a tin of drained lentils, some chia seeds (1tbs) soaked in water (I hoped this would work like a gel and hold them together a bit), paprika, and sundried tomatoes.

(All ready to be whizzed up).

Then I shaped them into patties- this made 7.

I baked them for 25 mins, and then enjoyed a couple for dinner.

Soooooooooo good 🙂 I found that I liked the thinner fries the best, so I think next time I make them I would slice them super thin. The patties are very soft but the sweet potato flavour really came through. 🙂 The rest are in the freezer so I can go sweet potato crazy another day! Yay!

On Friday we went to see Steven Merchant who was really funny- but coming home I got twinges in my stomach again. Yup, another UTI. Grr. My doctors is closed all weekend but by googling things we found that I could ring an urgent care centre- a doctor rang back and then faxed a prescription to a local pharmacy- luckily. But our journey up to Sheffield was not the best. We got there fairly late, and so Andy went out to get us some dinner- a mozzerella, basil and tomato panini. I had not had cheese for 2 weeks and it tasted very good- I think not having it all the time is making me appreciate it more. Then it was off to Othello (with McNulty and Lester from the Wire as Othello and Iago). I studied the play in year 9 I think, but could not remember any part of it, and I was a little worried that I would not have a clue about what was happening. But I did (phew) and I really enjoyed it- very dramatic with some dry humour in there. Plus we shared a tub of mint choc chip ice cream in the interval which was yummy. We were planning on stopping somewhere on the drive home today, but I was not feeling great so we went out for breakfast and then headed home. I did watch some of the GNR on the TV this morning- well done to everyone who took part- it always looks like the most amazing atmosphere. And did anyone manage to high-five Mo? 🙂

Fave sweet potato recipe?