Thursday, 28 February 2013

Cheerio Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch

I'm stealing Mini-M's food again for kitchen experimentation purposes. It's happened in the past, when I've purloined pots of fruit puree to chuck into cakes, bakes, and on one occasion even sausage casserole!

This time it was breakfast cereal. Mr E and I both felt that the evening required some sort of chocolate post-toddler-bedtime treat. I toyed with making chocolate cupcakes but couldn't really be bothered with waiting for them to cook. So instead I decided to give some Cheerios a bit of a grown up makeover, inspired by a bag of open marshmallows that were starting to go a bit sticky!

Hence Cheerio Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch was born - a not too distant relative of Sticky Crispie, it's plainer, peanut butter and chocolate-less cousin.

Cheerio Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch (makes 1 small tray)

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 90g marshmallows
  • 2 cups cheerios
  • 30g 70% dark chocolate chopped

First line a small traybake tin or roasting dish with greaseproof paper.
Next melt the coconut oil and peanut butter together in a large saucepan. Once they are runny, add the marshmallows and continue to melt over a low heat until the mixture is smooth.
Add the Cheerios and mix quickly.
Tip in the chopped chocolate and give a quick stir, then tip into the prepared tin.
Allow to cool in the fridge before slicing.

The last bite - going, going, gone! (Don't worry, we didn't eat the whole tray - just a very restrained slice each)
This would work with any breakfast cereal (although you might need to alter the volume a bit). You could also use butter instead of the coconut oil, and that will be absolutely fine too (although not dairy free any more). You could add raisins instead of the chocolate. Or nuts. If you've want to use a whole bag of marshmallows, then just double the quantities.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Daring Bakers - Going Crackers

Before reading any further I warn you this is a bit of a disaster post. Firstly, it is 3 minutes to 11 at night, and I have to get up in too few hours for work to really be contemplating starting blogging - but since today is the Daring Bakers challenge posting day and I only just realised, I'm doing just that.
Secondly, I took awful photos of my challenge bake.
Thirdly, I can't find the blog that I used as my recipe inspiration, and the internet is a big place. Yes, I know it's in my history, but I can't bring myself to trawl that far back!

So the end result is some really bad pictures of some mystery crackers.

Leaning tower of mystery crackers in the spotlight...
Leaning tower of mystery crackers in the gloom...
But enough virtual moping. The crackers themselves were really good. Properly crunchy with a real cracker snap. Even when cold (miracle). Even after 4 days in a plastic box (even bigger miracle). So I do slightly wish I'd bookmarked the recipe - oops!

They were made without flour, but with cooked quinoa, bulghur wheat and rice couscous that was blended along with ground flaxseed, water, soy sauce, ginger infused oil, and a Japanese sprinkle mix including seaweed and sesame seeds.

Thanks for a really tasty challenge - and here's hoping I stumble across the recipe at some point again in the future ;o)

Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February Daring Bakers' host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Random Recipes # 25: The choice is.... Mini-M's

For this month's Random Recipes challenge, hosted as ever by Dom at Belleau Kitchen, we were allowed to choose our random book and random recipe however we pleased.

Instead of counting cookbooks and using random number generators which has been used by many participants in the past, I decided that Mini-M was fairly random in general, so she could choose.

Hearty food never looks pretty!
I asked her to pick a cookbook from Mummy's shelf, and so she did. Surprise surprise, it was 'Fun Cakes'. I exercised my power of veto - no birthdays in February, so no ridiculous cake decorating on the agenda. After a moment of petted lip, and assurances that when it was actually her birthday, she could choose a cake, she went back and picked another - this rather vintage Mary Berry freezer book.

Some rather retro food styling!
I opened it part way through, and the recipe I ended up with was Norfolk Hotpot. It's basically a creamy bacon and potato casserole. As usual I played fairly fast and loose with the recipe, for which I have a whole range of excuses.

1) I needed to make it dairy free so used Oatly Oat Milk.
2) I have no idea what a Knuckle of Forehock of Bacon is. After reading the recipe, there were instructions to remove it from the bone, so I bought the only bit of bacon on a bone that ASDA had - a smoked pork hough. I have no idea if it was the correct size, since there was no weight in the recipe.
3) I didn't have the 4hrs cooking time required to do it properly, so I boiled the potatoes for longer, didn't layer them artfully on top, and just gave it a quick stint it into the oven to finish off.
4) 450g onions seems an awful lot for 6 people. Based on the onions I had, it worked out at 1 each. I'm not really up for eating a whole onion in a meal, so I halved the amount.
5) The bacon was really salty, so I decided not to use the actual stock - an approach condoned by Mary Berry - but she suggests a ham stock cube. I went slightly to the other end of the scale and used low sodium vegan Marigold boullion, since that is what I had to hand.

Thankfully despite all of those deviations, the end result was still lovely!

So here's my 'loosely inspired by Mary Berry' Almost Norfolk Hotpot (serves 4)

  • 1 smoked pork hough
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 450g potatoes
  • 250g onions
  • 450g vegetable boullion
  • 150ml Oatly oat milk
  • 2 tbsp dairy free sunflower margarine
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • Pepper

Soak the hough in cold water for an hour.
Drain and replace the water, then bring to the boil.
When it is boiling, take off the heat, drain and replace the water.
When it comes up to the boil again, allow to boil for 2hrs until the meat is tender.
Remove the hough, allow to cool slightly, then strip off the meat, and cut away the sinews and fat.
Slice the onions.
Peel and chop the potatoes into chunks.
Put both in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, add the bay leaves and cook until the potatoes are just tender but not too soft.
Whilst the potatoes and onion are boiling, melt the butter in a small saucepan.
Add the flour and stir well, then cook for a couple of minutes to make a roux.
Add the boullion and milk a little at a time, whisking well between additions, to make a smooth sauce.
Mix the boiled onion and potatoes, chopped bacon and sauce together in a large casserole.
Cook uncovered for 20 mins.

Not for the faint hearted - boiled hough is  a little gnarly!
This is a great hearty dish for winter weather. It warms you up inside when it's chilly out.

Looking less fearsome - chopped hough, ready to join the potatoes and onion in the sauce

I wonder what randomness next month will bring...

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Daring Cooks January and February Challenge - Sausages!

It's Daring Cooks posting time (and also Valentines day). I am typing quickly whilst Mr E is in the kitchen concocting some form of cocktail in honour of the date, that seems likely to involve Pepsi, mango sorbet and lime - I'm intrepidly intrigued...

But back to the sausages.

Sausages, mash and carrots... guess the sausage variety (clue - it's not horse!)
Here's the challenge description from the Daring Kitchen website...

For the January-February 2013 Daring Cooks' Challenge, Carol, one of our talented non-blogging members and Jenni, one of our talented bloggers who writes The Gingered Whisk, have challenged us to make homemade sausage and/or cured, dried meats in celebration of the release of the books Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn! We were given two months for this challenge and the opportunity to make delicious Salumi in our own kitchens!

At the outset I ruled out all of the meat curing options - you need cool, airy houses for that. Ours is a concrete box with damp problems. All that was going to be achieved was some rather nasty mouldy meat.

Instead I went with the fresh sausages options.

First up I tried to make some veggie ones which were really vile. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. After tasting one, they went in the bin.

I decided I needed to have a second attempt and went off piste, making up a recipe for salmon sausages as I went along. The end result was thankfully not only edible, but really tasty and Mini-M even ate some (although she did possibly say "Mmm I like this chicken Mummy" whilst eating it - but I'm not taking that as a slight on my cooking - both Mr E and I thought they most definitely tasted of salmon!).

After mincing salmon, onion, egg, breadcrumbs and dill, the mixture was formed into  sausages, wrapped carefully in cling film and poached for 15 minutes. 
Before being fried in a little olive oil to crisp up on the outsides
Inside - definitely salmon, not chicken  (or horse!)
I did jot down the recipe for these, but since I'm a) already a day late for posting and b) visiting my parents for the weekend so don't have it to hand, I figured I should just post without the recipe, and add it at a later date once I'm reunited with my kitchen notebook!

PS - I'm looking for people to get involved with the Spring Surprise Ingredient Swap I'm arranging. It's open to everyone, bloggers and non-bloggers alike from all around the world. You can find a little more  background info here - and here's how it works...

  • You have from now until 28th February to register your interest - by commenting on this post, the original post, tweeting me @MakeyCakeyRuth, or emailing me ruthie.ellis AT
  • On 1st March, I'll pair everyone up and let them know their swap partners. People can then get in touch to exchange addresses, discuss likes, dislikes, allergies, price limits etc
  • You then have until 15th March to send your swap ingredient winging its way to your swap partner and vice versa
  • Once you receive it, you've got until the 15th April to bake up something delicious and vaguely spring-y with it, and send me a link to your completed post (or email me a photo if you don't blog)
  • On 16th April (or thereabouts) I'll post a roundup of all your sure-to-be-beautiful-and-mouthwatering offerings!
  • If you Twitter, then mention me (@MakeyCakeyRuth) and use the hashtag #surpriseingredient and I'll retweet all that I see
You don't have to have a blog to join in - it's open to everyone that wants to get creative in the kitchen!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Hybrid Valentines Pancakes

I'm combining both of this week's significant celebrations into one. Although I'm not sure exactly what to call it - Shrove Valentines? Valentines Cake Day?

Whatever title best fits, we enjoyed the hybrid Valentines Pancakes for pudding!

I was inspired by this recipe for Orange Buttermilk Lace Pancakes by Iron Whisk. But since I had to make them dairy free, didn't have oranges, etc etc etc what I actually ended up making was Dairy Free Cherry Yoghurt Lace Pancakes. If you're in the market for orange and buttermilk, then ignore my recipe and follow the link above. If you're in the market for a cherry soya yoghurt version, then read on!
Getting in some early Halloween spiders web practice too...
Cherry Yoghurt Lace Pancakes (how many you'll get from the mix depends how dense you make your lace patterns)
  • 130g Self Raising Flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 small pot soya yoghurt (I used cherry)
  • Approximately 150ml non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
If your yoghurt has bits of fruit in, sieve it otherwise they will clog the nozzle when you are making the lace patterns.
Pour the sieved yoghurt into a measuring jug, then add milk up to a total volume of 240ml.
Add the egg and oil and beat until the egg is broken up.
Measure the flour into a mixing bowl, stir in the sugar and salt.
Add the wet ingredients and beat well with a whisk until smooth.
The batter should be a lot runnier than drop scones, but thicker than crepes.
Heat a non-stick frying pan with a tiny drop of oil.
Pour the batter into a squeezy sauce bottle, or even a plastic food bag which you can snip the corner off.
Squeeze the batter out in your chosen pattern, allow to cook for a couple of minutes, and then very carefully turn over and cook for another couple on the other side.

Happy Shrove Valentines day ;o)

Sunday, 10 February 2013

And the award for most ingenious Christmas present 2012 goes to...

... Mr E!

(I may be getting a little swept along in the spirit of the BAFTAs as I write this)

For my present from Mr E, alongside the boxed River Cottage Handbook Library which I've coveted for a long time, was a rolled up piece of A4 paper. I unrolled it to discover that Mr E had researched and planned a culinary and cultural tour around the world for 2013, without having to leave the country, or indeed our own house.

For each month he picked a country, a savoury dish, a sweet dish, a seminal album and a classic film.

To kick things off gently, we started with Scotland - our home turf! And since it was Burns night on the 25th, then it seemed rude not to enjoy some haggis, neeps and tatties. The sweet element was a Selkirk Bannock, baked with the 'assistance' of Mini-M who was chief raisin-mixer.

Hello Kitty does haggis
Smile for the camera!
Whilst we ate it, we listened to some vintage Eurythmics. I'm not entirely sure Mini-M was a fan - she's used to music being a little more sing-along-able and said in a puzzled voice "What is this Daddy?" pointing at the laptop that was playing it. But she put up with it with uncharacteristic good nature.

Pointing out the raisins
Yep - lots of raisins on the inside too
Independent buttering = lots of concentration!
Due to life being busy, evenings being short, the alarm for work being set unpleasantly early etc, we didn't watch our film on the same evening, but the next night (after Mini-M had gone to bed) enjoyed some guilty viewing pleasure, watching Brave! Which made us laugh at its take on all things Scottish, and made me secretly hope that Mini-M grows up with some of the portrayed feisty Scottish attitude! Now I know, there are a fair few Scottish classic films that might spring to mind before this Disney offering, however between us we'd seen most of them, either singly or together, so we continued the 'breaking ourselves in gently' with the culture side of things too, with some unadulterated commercial cheesiness!

We enjoyed our February country on Friday evening - Spain, although again we're waiting for the film, due to Amazon delivery not quite delivering on time!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Spring Surprise!

The days are (admittedly slowly) starting to lengthen and it feels a little less like we're stuck in eternal darkness. If you're not living in Scotland, you may not have felt quite as much like this as those in the frozen north of the UK, but wherever you are, the first signs of spring are almost in the air. Whilst taking a walk during my lunch break during the week I saw a few hardy snowdrops had flowered, and I've got some seasonally confused rhubarb growing on our balcony!

What better time then, for a Spring surprise - in the form of another surprise ingredient swap?

Flour - useful but not cost efficient to post as a swap ingredient!
Note to self: - I need to fine a new 'ingredient' photo for next time, as I've used this one the past 3 swaps - and flour is boring!

Now before we get into the detail, I wanted to take this opportunity to include one last entrant to the Seasonal Surprise Ingredient Swap that I arranged before Christmas. (Here's the roundup in case you're not sure what I'm talking about!) At the closing date for the roundup, one of the participants was snowed under with revision, exams and all sorts of other educational distresses. But not to let such inconveniences stand between her and some cake creation, she baked a bit late, and here's the result:

Perfect for Halloween - Pumpkin Muffins!
Thank you Chloe! (and your swap partner Claire).

Since I'm feeling Springy (seasonal, rather than bouncing about crazily. In direct contrast I'm actually sitting in sofa-zombie mode after a busy day, busy week, and Mini-M's new assertion this week that 'morning time' happens at some point between 5:15am and 6:15am) I think a Spring theme is appropriate - it's also vague enough that you can pretty much make whatever you like, stick 'Spring' in the title, and it'll fit the bill!

Here's how it works...

  • You have from now until 28th February to register your interest - by commenting on this post, tweeting me @MakeyCakeyRuth, or emailing me ruthie.ellis AT
  • On 1st March, I'll pair everyone up and let them know their swap partners. People can then get in touch to exchange addresses, discuss likes, dislikes, allergies, price limits etc
  • You then have until 15th March to send your swap ingredient winging its way to your swap partner and vice versa
  • Once you receive it, you've got until the 15th April to bake up something delicious and spring-y with it, and send me a link to your completed post (or email me a photo if you don't blog)
  • On the 16th April (or thereabouts) I'll post a roundup of all your sure-to-be-beautiful-and-mouthwatering offerings!
  • If you Twitter, then mention me (@MakeyCakeyRuth) and use the hashtag #surpriseingredient and I'll retweet all that I see :-)
You don't have to have a blog to join in - it's open to everyone that wants to get creative in the kitchen!

Now don't all rush at once...

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Party Eggs a la Mini-M

When I got in from work today, I was greeted at the door by a very excited Mini-M, clutching a half shelled boiled egg, telling me she was making dinner, and indeed she was. Under the patient supervision of Mr E, she was busy making 'Party Eggs' inspired by this episode of "I Can Cook" (just incase anyone is feeling in the need of a) a kids TV fix or b) some party inspiration themselves...).

Since she was doing a grand job, and Mr E had everything under control, I took some photos. "Party Eggs" seem to be hard boiled eggs with the yolks mashed with chopped tomato and a little mayonnaise.

The end result was eaten by all, including Mini-M which is always a good thing, and the egg bashing, rolling, peeling, washing, chopping, squeezing and mashing had her thoroughly engrossed.

Rolling the egg on the tray to break the shell
Carefully unpeeling 
Showing off the newly peeled egg 
There was much egg washing fun to get all the little bits of shell off, water swirling and exclamations of "Look it's going round and round Mummy!" Simple pleasures. Then there was chopping, which with a 'Hello Kitty' toddler table knife that is about as sharp as the handle of a spoon, was probably more enthusiastic than accurate. The 'gently squeezing the eggs to make the yolks pop out' instruction was interpreted rather vigorously too. Hence the slightly haphazard appearance of the finished product...

Think this would get low Masterchef marks for plating!
They tasted good, Mini-M was very proud, and tea-time was a success.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Embutido - Filipino Gala Pie!

Mr E is on a mission to eat food from 30 different countries in the year before he turns 30. We seem to have been covering Spain and Poland repeatedly, and struggling a bit on other fronts, so I decided to be a little adventurous to help out.

Embutido is a Filipino Meatloaf that is stuffed with hard boiled egg - a little like Gala Pie is in the UK, but without the lardy pastry outer. I found my recipe inspiration here, but as usual didn't have quite the right things, so I'm posting my much less authentic version too! It is supposed to be made with minced pork, but our nearest ASDA (which sometimes seems to be a strong contender for the worst stocked supermarket in Edinburgh...) had no minced pork, so I used turkey. 

Meatloaf - hard to photograph beautifully, on your phone, as you're about to eat...
The dish is apparently traditionally served around Christmas time in the Phillipines - slices of it would make a pretty awesome Christmas morning breakfast!

Embutido (makes 2 meatloaves, each serving 4-6)
  • 800g turkey mince
  • 1 slice fresh white bread
  • 2 tbsp Oatly oat milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 small cooking chorizo (about 100g) chopped
  • 2 heaped tbsp fruity chutney (I used some M&S Windfall chutney)
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 tbsp dairy free sunflower margarine
Shell the boiled eggs and quarter.
Preheat the oven to 180C (170C fan)
Put all the ingredients apart from the margarine and hard boiled eggs into a food processor and blitz until well combined.
Take a sheet of aluminium foil and use 1 tbsp of the margarine to grease it well.
Pile half of the mixture across the sheet, leaving space to fold in the ends, in a rectangle.
Place 4 slices of egg down the middle, then gently pull the sides of the mixture over to cover the egg.
Wrap the foil all around and make sure the ends are well sealed.
Repeat with the other half of the mixture, margarine and boiled egg.
Bake for around 1hr - unwrap and check carefully to see if the juices run clear - if not, rewrap and allow to cook for another 15 mins.
Rest in the foil for 15 mins before unwrapping and slicing.

The impatient bit... waiting for it to be ready to open!
I made the whole mix, and froze one complete cooked meatloaf. This was a really tasty tea and it also made a delicious sandwich filling sliced thinly, because the turkey mince I used was very lean, so even when cold, it didn't feel too fatty.

Once we persuaded Mini-M it was just like sausages she was a fan. She's also going through an egg-loving phase at the moment, so as long as we made sure her slice had a big, obvious bit of egg in it, she was happy!

I have to say I was slightly skeptical at the inclusion of chutney and raising, but they add a really lovely sweetness and tang to it, which is offset by the pepper and chorizo. The moral of the story is - don't be daunted by the odd ingredients!

In the name of using things up, we ate it with baked beans, green beans, plain noodles and cauliflower! Take that tradition!

Guilt Free Carrot Cake Power Bites

In the fantastic 'We Should Cocoa' Sugar Free Chocolate Roundup last week, these Post-workout Protein Bites from Elizabeth's Kitchen caught my eye. Admittedly it was originally because she likened them to pony poo (appearance not taste you'll be relieved to hear!) but after reading through the ingredients list, it sounded like something I'd like to give a shot - they're packed full of dates, almonds and banana, with no refined sugar (and gluten free into the bargain) - so the ideal "cake" to let Mini-M have as a treat without feeling like too awful a parent!

Following Mini-M's preferred serving option for anything "In a little tub Mummy"
I've modified Elizabeth's recipe a bit, since a) I didn't want to make them chocolatey as Mini-M is a chocolate hater (whether dairy free or not!) and b) I had a carrot needing used rather than courgette hence the Guilt Free Carrot Cake Power Bites were born...

Guilt Free Carrot Cake Power Bites (Makes 24 mini or 12 larger bites)
  • 2 cups of ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 medium-large carrot, finely grated
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 12 small dates
  • 1/4 cup dark agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk plus 1 or 2 tbsp extra
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 160C and line 1 cupcake tin or 2 mini cupcake tins.
In a large bowl, mix together the ground almonds, brown rice flour and cinnamon.
Melt the coconut oil in a plastic jug, then add the other ingredients (apart from the 1-2 tbsp extra milk) and blitz with a hand blender until pureed.
Mix the wet into the dry ingredients. You should have a sticky dough - add more coconut milk if necessary.
Put spoonfuls into your tins, then bake for 15 mins until browned on top.
Cool on a wire rack.

With the omission of the cocoa from the inspiration recipe, these definitely don't resemble pony poo (or any other poo for that matter) which makes them less disconcerting to eat I'm sure. What's even better is that they taste really good. They've received a big thumbs up from all who have tried them, and you can enjoy them guiltlessly in the knowledge that they're a lot more natural than most other baked treats! Yes, they have sugar in them (from the fruit and agave), yes they have fat in them from the nuts and coconut milk / oil, but there's no weird stuff, and they pack a great energy punch which makes them perfect toddler snack food.
Cakes?? What cakes? There were no cakes here... just yoghurt (which they were dunked in before bring scoffed)


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