Caramel nut chocolate squares (recipe)

Hey all

I mentioned the other day that I did some baking over the weekend. First up, a super easy recipe for caramel nut chocolate squares. The caramel mixture is based on a recipe that Montezuma’s posted on their recipe page, but I wanted a really nutty bar (although you could add dried fruits) and I wanted a softer topping so it was easier to cut.


150g mixed nuts (I used peanuts and almonds)

50g dessicated coconut

1 small tin of condensed milk

1 tbs molasses

25g cornflakes

25g puffed oats (any cereal really)

100g dark chocolate

2 tsp nutella

Line a brownie pan with baking paper.

First up, preheat the oven to 180C. Spread the nuts and coconut on a tray and bake for about 5 mins, until lightly golden.

Meanwhile, heat the condensed milk in a large pan, and add the molasses, Stir together and heat gently- it will turn a deep caramel colour and thicken.

Add the toasted nuts and cereals to the condensed milk mixture, and stir to combine.

Pour this mixture into the brownie pan, and press down. Bake for 20 mins until deep golden in colour. Remove and leave to cool.

Then heat the chocolate (I do it in the microwave- in small bursts and keep stirring) and then stir in the nutella. Pour this over the nut mixture and spread out. (Optional, decorate with sprinkles/ chopped nuts/ coconut).

Leave to cool, and then to set in the fridge before slicing.

The nut mixture once baked.

Covered in the nutella/ chocolate mixture.

And after slicing- check out those chunky nuts.

Yum these were so good 🙂 (We had them for Sunday tea- a treat for the runners and watchers!). I am wondering about trying to make a similar caramel with brown rice syrup- I will post that recipe if it goes well too.

I also made some cookies as we were visiting friends on Saturday night- my friend who is quite picky anyway (no dried fruit, no nuts but she likes peanut butter, no fruit…) is now pregnant and her midwife has said no nuts. So chocolate was pretty much the only option!

I went for fudge cookies.

I chopped up a few bars of fudge (the cadburys ones) and then added them to the Millies Cookies recipe. Some I added in the mixture, and some I put on the top as I was not sure how they would react in the oven.

On the baking tray (the mats I have are looking a bit funny now- I do wash them honest! But the heat seems to make them change colour even though they are meant to be heat safe- it has happened to my loaf pans too).

And then cooling after. I was pretty impressed- the fudge did melt and so where it was close to the edge it had gone off the cookies and onto the tray, but only on a few cookies. I have found that with these mats it is better to leave the cookies to cool on the tray before moving them, otherwise the bottoms sort of fall down. I packed them up in the bunny bag (the pink one in the background) and they made a great gift, even if I do say so myself!

Anyway, two good recipes to remember for another time.

I went for another run today after work although things were conspiring against me- thinking about it now I was not really prepared. Anyway this week the plan is 10 min run, 1 min walk for the same 3 mile route. I managed the first 10 mins fine, but after about 15 mins my calves were getting so stiff (which never normally happens) and I had to stop and stretch. Then I managed the next ten mins (much slower but I felt no energy) but for the final bit my right foot went totally numb.

My problems were: a– Not enough fuel as I had such a busy day at work and all I had time for at lunch was 2 ryvita with hummus (plus grapes at break time and a pear at about half 4). b– Not enough fluid- again busy day meant I only had my 500ml bottle of water, whereas usually I re-fill it at lunch and have some rooibos tea while I mark or something at lunch time. c-Due to rushing home and wanting to be done with my run so I could finish my work I didn’t warm up at all, I just headed out the door. d– I did not sort out the laces on my right shoe (even though I mentioned it yesterday). So hopefully that won’t happen again! In any case sometimes the running fairy is just not with you.

Anyway, after a bath and some dinner I am feeling much better now- might get the foam roller out later and see if that helps my calves a bit too.

Have a lovely evening all 🙂

Gait analysis

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely weekend. Mine has been great so far. I went out on a run on Friday after work, and managed the 8 mins run, 1 min walk again. We spent a few hours at the allotment on Saturday (saw the Red Arrows fly over) and made it ship-shape! The weeds had really taken over, and I had only been doing light weeding, but I have been feeling so much better so I took along a big fork and tackled the fruit bed, Andy tackled other weeds and my Mum and brother came along and did some planting for us. I was awake very early (we have a neighbour who mows his lawn with a strimmer very early on summer weekends) so I made some scones for my Mum and brother to thank them for helping us.

I made these with some dried fruit and a little almond extract, and one was a very welcome late lunch (and some chocolate tea) after all that digging.

I had a lot of jobs to do at home, so after doing some cleaning and tidying I walked up to Sweatshop as they were having 20% off.

I decided (I think while in hospital and reading countless running magazines) that this year I would get fitted for proper running trainers. I have always been happy with Nike shoes (and I like Nike+) but my current ones are not as comfy as my old ones, and the soles feel a little too thick.

Anyway, I thought I would have to run on the treadmill once, so I did wear my trainers and a sports bra. But it actually went like this:

I had to remove my socks, and stand while the lady felt my arches and heels (poor her), then I had to walk around the shop while she watched me. Then I had to try on a pair of neutral shoes and go on the treadmill while she watched me. Interestingly she said that my right leg is fine (my right knee is the one that used to give me issues and I have to be careful with) and my left foot does not overpronate, but it flicks out to the side a little bit. She said I needed moderate/ light supportive shoes, whereas my current ones were very supportive which is why they felt too solid. She also said that my current size (5) were too small. I tried on one pair of size 5’s and they did feel small, and I even measured the soles against my current ones to see (they were the same). So I tried on 5 1/2’s, and a couple of 6’s (but they were too big).

Anyway, she kept bringing out different shoes, I had to try them on, then go back on the treadmill again. At one point she got someone else to come and watch me run too- it was so hard to run naturally as I was really conscious of being watched! Anyway, this went on for over 30 mins! I must have tried on at least 8 pairs of shoes, and the ones I finally settled on I tried on twice and had to run with them twice (with a different pair in between to check) just to make sure.

So here they are! They have a 30 day exchange policy so if I don’t get on with them I can swap them for another pair, and I also got a free 16 week membership to an on-line run club (Full Potential Run Club- never heard of it but it sounded good) and a reminder that they have a run each week from the shop. They are Mizuno ones, and apparently the support (the wave?) goes along the whole length which should help to correct the flicking out.

So this morning I was up bright and early for a run in them! 🙂  I did the same route, and the same 8 min run, 1 min walk, but I managed it about 3 minutes quicker! They felt lovely, although I think I need to lace up the right foot better next time.

Then after a quick bath and breakfast I was off out again, this time to watch Andy and his brother run a local 10K race.

Photographer fail! When Andy was running along the finish bit, I took out the camera and took the photo, only the camera was switched over to showing me the last photo I took! Oops!

I did like it when the first person was coming in, and they started to play Chariots of Fire over the speakers!

I got his brother anyway (in the blue) as he was a few mins behind so that gave me time to work out what had happened to the camera!

Watching a race is so much colder than running a race- it was so cold out there! I had a hot chocolate when I got home as I was freezing!

I have been doing some other baking this weekend, but I will save that for another post.

Runners- have you ever had your gait analysed? Or anyone tempted? It was much more in depth than I was expecting.

Did you have a lovely weekend too ?

Time to celebrate!

Hello all!

I am in a celebratory mood tonight! After yesterday where things were not so good- busy day at work (which was fine), home late, went for a run still (how dedicated)- again that went fine but then our shower decided to not work- only cold water would come out, and if you turned the dial around to hot the pressure went. We do have a bath too, luckily, but the shower hose is old and leaky, so it does not work! Cue a lot of trying to fix it, before resorting to a bath and dry shampoo, and Andy spending half the night trying to fix the shower before we gave in and went to get a new shower hose for the bath! (We are having the shower room re-done soon and have the new shower sat in our garage so don’t want to waste money fixing something for the next couple of weeks). Anyway, it was quite an annoying evening.

But today!

I had a hospital appointment in the afternoon for a scan- just as a follow up to check everything is OK. I pretty much thought it was, but it is nice to be sure (seeing as I had no idea about the cyst in the first place!)- I had to drink a litre of water an hour before, and when I got there, they had a sign saying appointments were running late- ahh! But actually mine was bang on time, and the person (radiographer?) doing the scan said everything looked as it should, which was a great relief. So I celebrated with a soya chai latte- mmmmm. Even sat outside as it was quite warm (or maybe I was warm from rushing about and generally being nervous being at the hospital).

I also had time to pop to the shops and treated myself to a few bits.

Chai tea (mainly for Andy but I do have it sometimes), dark coconut chocolate, a raw coconut bar (looks a bit like a Lara bar I think) and a mini coconut chocolate bar (I am loving coconut right now) and, the most exciting thing of all, some sunflower seed butter!!!! Even the lady at the checkout was interested in it as she had not seen it before- it took me ages to choose smooth over crunchy as they had both. It is this stuff, (but smooth) and I have never heard of the brand before but it seems to be all over the internet.

I then went to get my hair cut, as they are open late on Thursdays (taking advantage as next week I have decided I am starting back at Body pump- yay- more reasons to celebrate).

Always looks so shiny after that, and I love having someone wash my hair 🙂 OK so you can’t really tell in the photo but it was cut, and is so much tidier than it was before.

Anyway, good things all round 🙂 I feel like my energy levels are finally returning to normal again, and although my stamina for running is clearly much lower, I am building up again and managing OK with it. I might make the half in September after all (well not have to walk some of it I mean).

So, the virtual cafe is open- what will you have to join with me celebrating?



8 mins!

Yup! I did it! Perhaps it was not such a good idea as I went out on Saturday and Sunday morning, but I didn’t get home too late today (I had brought work home with me instead) so I decided to go out for my first run of this week.

The plan was 8 min run, 1 min walk, repeated for the 3 mile route. It still takes me ages to run it, as I think when I am moving I am going at 11-12 min miles on average, but I didn’t need to stop at any time, and kept to the time limits. The jump up from 5 mins seemed big in a way, but I basically made my head tell my legs they could do it.

I also made a lovely lemon and lime cake at the weekend (for Sunday tea)- it was a basic lemon cake recipe (sponge cake with lemon zest in it) to which I added lime zest to. Then you pour it with lemon and lime juice when it comes out of the oven (pierce it first), leave it to cool and then top with a lemon/lime icing (lemon and lime juice with icing sugar) and then sprinkle with zest.

Look at how yellow it is on the inside! It was delicious- the recipe was from my National Trust recipe book and I am very sure I will make it again. It went perfectly with the summery weather over the weekend- shame it is back to rain now!

Share a celebration with me please- I am in the mood for positives right now!

Cutty Sark Tea and blueberry almond scone recipe

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend. I managed to get out for another run this morning- I have it in my head to do 3 runs a week at the moment, so now I have. Again I did the 3 mile route, with 5 min run and 1 min walk. It went well, and I was feeling pretty good- I feel like I can get into more of a rhythm now and I am not desperate for the walk breaks like I was in previous weeks. Next week the idea is 8 min run, 1 min walk so we shall see how that goes.

Last week I was kindly sent some Twinings tea, to celebrate the relaunch of the Cutty Sark. Following years of renovation, the Cutty Sark (the fastest tea clipper) is now open again. They have some Cutty Sark Twinings tea caddies to celebrate- with either gunpowder green tea or black tea. They sent me the black tea, which is a blend of black teas from China. I love the tea caddy, first of all- the design is fab with the ship and all sorts of equipment (anchors, telescopes, light-houses etc) all over it. Plus I much prefer loose-leaf tea to teabags and I can re-use it once it is empty.

The tea is great too- nice and strong, and perfect with something sweet!

Today I had some with a blueberry almond scone (and lemon curd)- perfect.

There is information about the history of the Cutty Sark here– it is very interesting (I love the picture of the old map on the page)- my favourite fact is that when it arrived it contained 1450 tonnes of tea! More than in my tea cupboard! And of course you can buy the Cutty Sark tea on their website.

And onto the scones:

The recipe I found was here, and I changed it a teeny bit, making them vegan (well of course until you cover them with lemon curd). I weighed out the ingredients to make it easier next time, but you can use the cups measurements too.

Blueberry almond scones (vegan)


2 cups plain flour (270g)

3 tsp baking powder

3 tbs caster sugar (45g)

1/2 tsp mixed spice and cinnamon

5 tsb softened pure spread (55g)

1/2 cup almond milk (110g- 110ml?)

1 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (80g)


Preheat the oven to 220C, and grease a baking tray.

Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and spices in a bowl, and stir to combine.

Add the spread and rub in until it forms breadcrumbs.

Put the almond extract into the milk. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, and pour in the milk. Stir to combine briefly, then pour on the blueberries. Mix until it forms a soft dough. I added a splash more milk to mine, but you might not need to.

Pat it into a round, and then cut into wedges. Mine made 8.

Place on the greased tray, brush with a little more almond milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15-20 mins, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

The dough being shaped.

Fresh from the oven.

Cooling on the rack.

And finally being enjoyed with some lemon curd. Yum. Seriously these were pretty easy to make, don’t need any unusual ingredients, and are so tasty too. You could probably grate in some lemon zest to add to the flavour too.

I have been craving scones for ages, and these hit the spot! What is your favourite treat to go alongside tea?