Easy Pancakes with Sweet Potato or Banana

I love American style pancakes, I literally could eat them every day. Once of the things that has prevented me from doing so is that I have always found them a bit of a faff to make, they require the use of my mixer usually and I can’t always be bothered generating that much washing up first thing. I’m lazy!

Fortunately I have now discovered a super easy way to make them, with limited mess and washing up required as they are made in the Nutribullet smoothie maker. They could also be made with a standard mixer or another similar product to the Nutribullet.

In addition to them being, they are also pretty healthy as there is no added sugar which means I don’t have to feel guilty about making them more regularly, and they are also suitable if you are doing baby led weaning (after 6 months as they include eggs & flour, potential allergens), so they can be a breakfast/brunch treat for the whole family!

The recipe works with either banana or sweet potato, you could probably also use butter-nut squash if you were a fan!

These are the banana pancakes:

These are the sweet potato:

The recipe makes about 20 mini pancakes, enough for brunch for me, my Husband and our 6 month old.

Ingredients:

  • Either 1 medium/large sweet potato peeled, cut into chunks and steamed until soft), or 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Generous sprinkle of cinnamon (optional and to taste)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A knob of Butter or coconut oil for frying

Instructions:

  1. Switch the oven on low & put a plate/Serving dish in to warm so you can pop the pancakes in as you cook them to keep them warm while you make further batches. Place all the ingredients into a nutribullet or mixer and whizz up until it makes a smooth batter.
  2. Heat butter or coconut oil in a frying pan until hot and then drop tablespoons of the mixture into the pan to make pancakes of the required size ( I like making small mini pancakes which are perfect cut in half for my baby to get a good grasp on).
  3. Let the pancakes cook for a few minutes, until little bubbles start to appear on the surface, then flip them over and cook for a few more minutes on the other side.
  4. As they cook, pop them in the preheated dish in the oven to keep warm while you finish making the rest of the pancakes from the batter.

These are lovely served with yoghurt and fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup (for the grown ups, best not to give the maple syrup to the little ones!). You can also add a spoonful of greek yoghurt to the mixture when you whizz it up which makes a lovely smooth creamy batter.

A tip for the sweet potato versions, you can steam the potato in advance and whizz this up to make a puree and then put it into freezer bags and freeze until you are ready to use. Then you could always take a bag out the night before you plan to have them and let the puree defrost overnight so it’s ready to whizz up in the morning!

 

Red Velvet Brownies

Well, It’s been a pretty long time since I last posted as I’ve been somewhat busy having a baby! The Boy was born in February this year, so unfortunately I have had my hands pretty full and haven’t had much chance to do any baking. Not having the opportunity to spend much time in the kitchen has made me realise just how much I enjoy getting to bake and therefore I am hoping to prioritise a little more time for myself as baking is a bit of a meditative exercise for me and I always feel happy and refreshed after I’ve baked. Also, now the Boy is weaning I am going to be able to experiment with baby appropriate bakes which is going to be fun. I’m sure I will post some recipes in the future.

This weekend it was my friend’s birthday and she was having an ‘Afternoon Tea’ party, the perfect opportunity to try out one of the recipes I’ve had my eye on for a while in the new Hummingbird Bakery book ‘Life Is Sweet’. There are some fantastic recipes in there, I particularly was pleased to see an entire chapter dedicated to pancakes. Pancakes make me very happy!

It wasn’t too hard to decide what to bake first from the book, Red Velvet is a fantastic cake in my opinion, whether in cupcake format or a 2 or 3 layered cake the chocolately, rich sponge next to the creamy cream cheese frosting is just a delightful taste combination. I think anything Red Velvet always looks pretty impressive too! So when I saw that Hummingbird had devised a Red Velvet Brownie recipe, I was sold before I’d even tried them!

I found that the recipe was quite involved, but that’s to be expected with something which has 2 different layers, but the result was lovely. The brownie was moist and rich and the cream cheese layer complemented it perfectly.They sliced really cleanly and held their shape very well, sometimes I can find brownies to be quite gloopy and messy but these were perfect little brownie bars. The swirl effect on the top also looked pretty impressive. Using the 23x32cm tin means that this makes LOADS of brownies! They are quite rich so I cut them into sensible standard brownie squares and this made 25 brownies!

Recipe: Makes one 23x32cm (9x13in) tray, to slice as desired. Requires one 23 x 32cm (9x13in) tin.

Ingredients:

For the Brownie Layer:

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 390g caster sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 55g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp red gel paste colouring, mixed with water to make 1 1/2 tbsp liquid
  • 2tsp white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the cream cheese layer:

  • 390g full-fat cream cheese (eg Philadelphia), softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C (350F/Gas mark 4). Line the tin with non-stick baking parchment.
  2. To make the brownie layer, melt the butter in a medium sized heatproof glass bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water, then stir in the caster sugar and vanilla. Beat by hand until the mix is slightly thickened, then remove from the heat.
  3. Using a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric whisk, mix the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vinegar with the sugar and butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Add the eggs and beat until nice and smooth, then fold in the flour & salt.
  4. Pour the red velvet batter into the prepared tin, saving about 60ml of the batter for the top and setting this aside.
  5. To make the cream cheese layer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.
  6. Spread/pour the cream cheese over the RAW red velvet layer, carefully smoothing it evenly. Dollop bits of the reserved red velvet batter onto the cream cheese layer and, using a skewer, swirl to make patterns.
  7. Bake for about 30-35 mins, or until the top is firm to the touch and just starting to go golden at the edges. Remove from the own and allow to cool before cutting.

 

 

 

Chocolate Orange Chess Cake!

Everyone loves a birthday party! It’s the perfect occasion for a big ol’ celebration cake. So for the Bolton Clandestine Cake Club’s Second birthday event I wanted to make something a little special. I love a cake with a secret hidden pattern, and having made a chocolate & vanilla chess cake once before, it seemed the perfect opportunity to do one again. This time, I wanted to try something different with the flavour combination, chocolate orange is a match made in heaven, so I figured, why not? I free styled slightly with the recipe, using the base sponge recipe and chocolate ganache to coat the cake from the GBBO Showstoppers Recipe book for their Chess cake, however I adapted the recipe slightly by adding orange zest & extract to the plain cake mix, and using an orange butter cream to sandwich the sponges. I was very pleased with the results, there was a lovely balance of the chocolate and orange flavour which is what I was hoping for.

The recipe may seem really involved and long winded, but it’s actually much simpler than it seems (I promise!). Definitely worth having a full read through and get yourself familiar with the steps before you begin though.

Equipment required:

  • 3 x 20cm sandwich tins, greased and base lined with baking paper
  • 2 piping bags each fitted with a 1 or 1.5cm plain nozzle (they must be the same size!)

Ingredients:

For the sponges:

  • 350g unsalted butter, softened
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • good pinch of salt
  • 50g cocoa powder (for the chocolate mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract (for the orange mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 4 tablespoons of milk

For the Orange butter cream

  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 80g unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 25ml whole milk

For the dark chocolate ganache/decoration

  • 300g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 1 Terry’s Chocolate Orange (Or any other chocolates you want to use to decorate the top of the cake)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas mark 4. Put the butter into a large mixing bowl or free-standing mixer. Beat until very creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, then the vanilla extract. Keep beating and scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is much lighter in colour and very fluffy in texture.

2. Gradually add the eggs, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 tablespoon of the weighed flour with each of the last 2 portions of egg to prevent the mixture from curdling.

3. Sift the remaining flour and the salt into the bowl and gently fold in using a large metal spoon until you can no longer see any streaks or specks of flour.

4. At this point you need to split the mixture. I do this by weighing the full quantity and transferring half to another bowl. Sift the cocoa into one of the bowls and add 2 tablespoons of the milk. Fold in until completely blended. Spoon the mixture into one of the piping bags. Add the orange extract and orange zest and 2 tablespoons of milk into the mixture in the second bowl, mix thoroughly, then spoon into the other piping bag.

5. Pipe a ring of chocolate mixture around the inside edge of one tin. Then pipe a ring of the light mixture inside the chocolate ring. Repeat with alternate chocolate & light rings until the tin is filled. Repeat with a second tin. Then for the third tin, start with an outer ring of the light mixture, so this tin is the reverse of the other 2 tins.

6. Bake for 22-25 minutes until well risen and springy when lightly pressed in the centre. Run a knife around the inside of each tin to loosen the sponge, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

7. Whilst the sponges are in the oven/cooling you should make the butter cream filling and the chocolate ganache. To make the orange butter cream beat together the icing sugar, butter and orange zest with an electric mixer (free-standing or handheld), on a medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed. Slowly add the milk a little at a time (you may not need all the milk to get the consistency you’re after so don’t worry if you don’t add it all). Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes.

8. To make the ganache, put the finely chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a pan until hot but not boiling, then pour in a slow, steady stream over the chopped chocolate. Leave it to stand for a few minutes without touching it, then stir gently until the chocolate is all melted and smooth and glossy. Leave to cool and thicken slightly, then stir gently, but don’t over beat or the mixture could separate. It’s best to leave the mixture to cool somewhere for a while before trying to cover the cake, otherwise the consistency will be too runny to hold over the cake. I usually leave for at least 20 minutes.

9. Once the sponges are fully cooled it’s time to assemble the layers. Place one of the sponges with the chocolate outer ring upside down on a cake board or your serving platter. Spread the top with half of the orange butter cream then set the the sponge with the white outer ring on top. Spread the rest of the butter cream on top and then top with the third remaining sponge with the browned top uppermost. Cover the top and the sides of the cake with the chocolate ganache. I use a palette knife to smooth out the ganache on the sides of the cake. I find it best to do one layer first to get the coverage over the cake and then when that has set slightly to go over with a second layer over the top. The ganache should have a lovely shiny finish. Before the ganache has had chance to set on the top, use the Terry’s Chocolate Orange segments (or whatever you have chosen to decorate the cake with) to decorate the top. Leave the cake in a cool spot (not the fridge though) to set. I tend to make the cake the evening before I want it so the ganache has overnight to set.

Et voila! It’s a very impressive looking cake on the outside with the beautiful glossy ganache finish. It becomes even more impressive when you slice into it. It can be a little nerve wracking as to whether the chess board pattern will have worked, and you won’t know until you cut into it, however I can guarantee you that it will draw some ‘oooh’s’ and ‘aaaaah’s’ when the cake is sliced! Hidden patterns within a cake always get a great reaction, and the method for creating such an impact is actually pretty simple, so why not give it a go?!

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Oreo Cupcakes!

As you may have seen from my earlier Oreo Cookie Brownie post, I heart Oreos. A while ago it was one of my work colleague’s birthdays, who is also an Oreo lover so I was eager to bake something appropriate for her. The brownie has become a staple ‘go-to’ bake for me, so I fancied trying something different, ideally cupcake based. I had a browse online and came across a lovely post for Oreo Cupcakes on Sweetharts Cakes & Bakes. It seemed a pretty simple recipe and the photos of the finished articles looked really lovely so I gave them a go.

You can see the recipe on Sweethearts page linked above, but I’ve detailed
below as well:

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 16 whole Oreo’s

For the Frosting:

  • 175g softened unsalted butter
  • 350g sifted icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2tbs milk
  • 3 or 4 crushed Oreo’s – Crushed in a food processor or in a sandwich bag with a rolling pin
Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or gas mark 4. Line a cupcake baking tray with cupcake cases. Place a whole Oreo cookie into each case.
2. Sift the flour,cocoa powder,baking powder and salt into a bowl give it all a mix
3. In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together either with a handheld electric whisk or a free standing electric mixer until it is light and fluffy then add the vanilla extract and the eggs 1 at a time whisking them in slowly.
4. Alternate between adding the milk and flour mixing between additions to bring the batter together,adding any remaining flour at the end.
5. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases (I use an ice-cream scoop),covering the Oreo’s and filling the cases about 3/4 full. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes. The cakes are ready when a cocktail stick or skewer comes out of the centre clean.
6. Set on a cooling rack to cool completely.
7. To make the frosting, beat the butter and icing sugar together for a few minutes until it becomes smooth & fluffy. Add the milk a little at a time if the consistency is a bit thick.
8. Mix in a spoonful at a time of the crushed Oreo’s just until you get a speckled frosting. I like to hold a little back to be able to sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the finished cupcakes.
9. You can then top the sponges with the buttercream, either with a palette knife or using a piping bag and star nozzle. I finish by sprinkling Oreo crumbs over the top of the buttercream.
When I did them for my friend’s birthday I didn’t use a piping bag to frost as I was doing them on a ‘school night’ so used a palette knife to top them, which was pretty quick and easy. I have made them a second time and piped the frosting. What I would say, is that if you are going to pipe, ensure that you have quite a large open star nozzle. Because of the oreo crumbs in the buttercream they can get stuck in the nozzle which results in a wobbly uneven swirls.

Both times I made these cupcakes they went down an absolute storm! The sponge is really moist but surprisingly not too chocolatey or sickly. So if you are a fan of Oreos, I would absolutely recommend them! Thanks very much to Sweetharts, Cakes & Bakes for the fab recipe! The whole Oreo in the bottom of the cake is a real cheeky treat!

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My Favourite Carrot Cake

When I was growing up, I couldn’t get my head around carrot cake. Vegetables in cake? What’s that about?  I’ve also never been a fan of cake with fruit in it, and very often carrot cake would have sultanas in which I just couldn’t get on board with (still can’t!). Carrot cake was a particular favourite of my Nana’s, and if we’d go out on family trips anywhere and we stopped for a tea break she would always be after “A lovely bit of carrot cake” (said in her Irish accent!). Me, I’d be the typical kid and always steer towards the richest chocolate option on offer, a vegetable based cake was never going to get a look in. When my Husband (then boyfriend) told me carrot cake was one of his favourite cakes, I figured I should find a good recipe to make one for him, I thought maybe my tastes would have changed so I should give it a go myself! Being a big fan of Hummingbird I guessed their carrot cake recipe would be a good place to start. Turns out I was right, and not a sultana in site thank goodness!

This recipe offers a perfectly moist, slightly spiced carrot cake which is offset by the yummy cream cheese frosting. I made a tiny tweak to the recipe for the frosting to add the zest of one orange which gives it a fresh zing which stops it being a little to rich or sickly. This recipe has become a particular favourite in our household, it’s pretty versatile and can be decorated simply without the sides covered with some walnuts on top, or you can go a little fancier, coat the sides to fully cover the cake and put aside some of the frosting, colour it orange and green and pipe little carrots on top. Below are a few different versions I have done using this recipe.

So here’s my favourite, ever reliable carrot cake recipe:

Equipment – 3 x 20 cm cake tine, base lined with greaseproof paper

Ingredients:

  • 300g soft light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 300g carrots, grated
  • 100g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus extra, to decorate

For the Frosting:

  • 600g icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 250g cream cheese, cold
  • Zest of 1 orange

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (325 degrees F/Gas mark 3)
  2. Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated (don’t worry if the mixture looks slightly split.
  3. Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed. I find at this stage the mixture looks like gloopy peanut butter!

 

4. Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand until they are all evenly dispersed.

 

 

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

7. To make the frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on a medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go, as well as the orange zest and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to a medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Don’t over-beat as it can quickly become runny.

8. When the cakes are cold, put one on a cake stand/plate and spread about one-quarter of the frosting over with a palette knife. Place the second on top and spread another quarter of the frosting over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. If you don’t want to cover the sides, then you should use a little more of the frosting when doing the layering. You can finish off by decorating the top with walnuts and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

 

If you want to do little carrots, put some of the frosting aside before you cover the cake, colour some orange and some green with colouring gel, I use sugarflair,I’d recommend this over liquid colouring which will make the frosting too runny. Use a small circular piping nozzle used for writing and put the orange frosting in, then pipe a line for the top of the carrot triangle, then come back under the line in the opposite direction doing a slightly shorter line and repeat reducing the width of the lines down to a point to create the triangle shape of the carrot. Then using the same nozzle and the green frosting pipe little lines fanning out from the top of the carrot to create the green sprouts of the carrot top! I found it was best to do a couple of practice tries on a plate before piping onto the cake just to get the technique how I wanted it.

I find this cake so versatile, if you didn’t want a 3 tier cake and just wanted a traditional sandwich cake then just reduce the quantities down by a third.

 

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The Baking Bad Wedding…

So, it’s been quite a while since my last blog post. In the time since then I have got married and been on an amazing Honeymoon to America & Mexico. After Christmas in the run up to the wedding I did very little baking as I was trying to be very good so I didn’t have any last minute ‘The dress won’t fit’ panics, and let’s face it, when you bake, you have to sample the produce, so it was just safer to stay out of the pantry and away from the recipe books!

As a baker who has a particular interest and passion for baking cupcakes, I was sure that I wanted a cupcake tower for my wedding cake. Finding a supplier for this turned out to be a total nightmare as I had extremely high standards as I begrudged spending hundreds of pounds on something I felt that I could do a good job of myself. I dragged my poor husband to be around many cupcake shops to sample the goods (oh he has a tough life!), and eventually I was overjoyed to find the perfect little cupcake shop that makes gorgeous light sponge & perfectly balanced creamy butter cream (without being too sickly!)

The Yummy Cupcake Company, (http://www.yummycupcake.co.uk/) based in Lancaster is such a cute little coffee shop and we felt particularly drawn to their cupcakes as we got engaged in Lancaster (having met there years ago at university) and the morning after our engagement in December 2011, we went into the little Saturday market that runs in Lancaster centre, and picked up some cupcakes from the Yummy Cupcake Company’s market stall, and proceeded to devour them in our hotel’s lobby with a pot of tea by a lovely roaring fireplace!

From the outset Jen at Yummy Cupcake was brilliant, and was able to show us some great designs that they had done for cupcake towers in the past, however I was pretty set on what we wanted to match with our blue & white polka dot theme, and Jen was really accommodating and the end result was just spot on what we were looking for! Below are some pictures of our fantastic cupcake tower of chocolate & vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting and a top tier cake of chocolate sponge with vanilla butter cream & white chocolate cigarillos!


The cake topper was from a lovely little website http://www.misscake.co.uk/. I wanted a personalised cake topper to tie in with the design of our stationary which was focused around our names. They produce so many different personalised cake and cupcake topper designs in many colours and are so reasonably priced! I was so impressed with the quality of the product and Sarah at Miss Cake was really helpful in sending us a selection of pictures to help us pick the perfect shade of blue to suit our scheme! What’s lovely is that we now have a great keepsake from our wedding day that we can use again!

For our wedding favours I was keen to have something that tied in with my love of baking, so we wanted something edible. Yummy Cupcake Company were able to produce tasty chocolate brownies & Rocky road bars for us which we used as our favours which went down really well. There certainly were not any left on the tables after the wedding breakfast as they were all gobbled up pronto by our guests!

We had such an incredible day, all the hours of planning and imagining our dream wedding paid off and it really was an amazing day, everything came together so perfectly. We were so lucky that everything ran smoothly and as a result we can look back on it all and not feel sad that it’s over, but be happy and look forward to the future. Plus, one major bonus is now I can get back to guilt free baking, so hopefully many more regular posts to come now wedding planning isn’t taking up all my free time!

I need to give a quick shout out to and thanks to our Photographer Tim Emmerton http://www.lancashireweddingphotography.co.uk/ as I’ve used his photos for this post. I cannot recommend him enough if you know of anyone getting married in the North West area. From our first meeting we found Tim so approachable and friendly and knew he was the guy for us. All through the process he was great, and on the day he wasn’t an ‘in your face’ photographer, in fact many of our guests commented on the fact that he went unnoticed, and as a result we have so many natural shots of all our friends and family. Tim also went above and beyond for us, even rushing our to locate my husband’s car with his keys to grab some gifts for our guests out of the boot while we were otherwise occupied. Generally a great guy and a fantastic photographer!

Slimming World Aromatic Pork and Rice Pot!

One pot dishes are very popular in our house as they are just so simple! What’s not to like about an easy recipe where you bung everything in one saucepan, leave it for a while and end up with something lovely and tasty? Because of this when I spotted a Slimming World recipe book titled ‘All in One’ I knew there would be some guaranteed recipes in there which would appeal to us.

This recipe is one of the first attempted from the book and it was really tasty. The flavours are a bit different and unusual, which was a nice outcome of a recipe which didn’t really didn’t require much input from the chef! Definitely an easy one for when you’re entertaining and want something that’s hearty and simple but is a little different flavour wise!

The recipe serves 4 and is syn free on Extra Easy (6 syns on green, 10 syns on original). Preparation time is 25 minutes, and cooking time is 15 minutes, plus standing time.

Ingredients:

  • Fry light
  • 400g lean pork tenderloin, all visible fat removed, cut into thin strips
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 2 cm piece root ginger, peeled & finely grated
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 star anise
  • 100g green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded & sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled & cut into 3 cm batons
  • 225g dried long grain or basmati rice, rinsed & drained
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 450ml chicken stock
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Spray a heavy-based saucepan with low calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat.
  2. Add the pork, onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and star anise and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the green beans, red pepper, carrots, rice, soy sauce and stock. Season to taste and stir to mix well.
  4. Bring to the boil, cover tightly and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 12-15 minutes then remove the pan from the heat without removing the lid

5. Allow to stand, covered, for 12-15 minutes. Uncover the pan, fluff up the mixture with a fork, stir in the parsley and serve immediately.

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Syn Free Creamy Chicken Korma!

One of the things that is rubbish about being on a diet and trying to be good is not being able to indulge in weekend meal treats like take-aways. A curry is generally perceived as a total no-go area when you’re losing weight. Well not necessarily on Slimming World! I invested in a brilliant little book at my meeting which is full of lovely low syn curry recipes and I can’t wait to try them all out.

Keeping it simple for the first recipe attempt and picked a creamy chicken korma as our Saturday night treat this weekend. I was looking forward to this all week, and It certainly didn’t disappoint! It was a lovely simple curry recipe and tasted fantastic! In my experience low fat currys can be a real let down (e.g. Weight Watchers curry sauces from a jar, horrible and watery), but this certainly wasn’t, and I would never have guessed that there was hardly any fat in it!

This recipe serves 4, and is syn free on Slimming World Extra Easy (Free on Original, and 13.5 syns on green)

Ingredients:

Fry Light

  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
  • 1/4 tsp crushed cloves
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Onion, peeled & finely grated (I whizzed it in the food processor)
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 3 tsp peeled & finely grated root ginger
  • 3 tsp peeled & finely crushed garlic
  • 200g Can chopped tomatoes
  • 1kg skinless & boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 5 tbsp fat free natural fromage frais

Instructions

  1. Spray a large frying pan with low calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat.
  2. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom seeds, cloves, cumin seeds and onion and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the ground coriander and cumin, curry powder, ginger, garlic and tomatoes and stir fry for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Put the chicken into the pan and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, season well, cover tightly, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer gently for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. the pan from the heat and stir in the fromage frais. Serve Immediately.

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Slimming World Syn Free Pancakes!

I love pancakes! It’s ridiculous to me that they should be confined to being eaten one day a year. When I saw this recipe on-line for ‘syn free’ pancakes I was a little bit sceptical. When looking at the recipe I figured they wouldn’t taste like pancakes, but just like a sweet omelette. However, I was wrong! These pancakes are really tasty and genuinely taste like pancakes. It may have helped that I served them up real pancake style with bananas, blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup (for a few syns!), but these really felt like a treat breakfast and the fact that they were syn free made them all the more enjoyable. To make them even more appealing, they are so easy to make!

Ingredients (makes 2 pancakes)

  • 6 tbsp sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • Fry Light

 Instructions

  1. Separate the egg yolk and egg white into separate bowls
  2. Add 3 tbsp of sweetener to the egg white. Using an electric mixer, whisk up the egg white until it makes stiff peaks
  3. Add the vanilla extract and the rest of the sweetener to the egg yolk and mix well.
  4. Fold the egg yolk into the egg white mixture
  5. Spray a pan with Fry Light and pour half the mixture into the pan. After a few minutes flip the pancake over,
  6. Take the pancake out a few minutes later, and repeat the cooking process with the rest of the mixture.
  7. Serve them up with your favourite pancake topping and enjoy!

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Slimming World!

After somewhat of an indulgent Christmas I am now trying to be very healthy to lose a few pounds before I get married in April! I have tried Weight Watchers in the past, but felt like I needed to try something new to get motivated and get a bit of a new lease of weight loss life.

I found that Weight Watchers could be a bit limiting and I would spend a lot of time feeling quite hungry, so I was ready to step over to the dark side and give Slimming World a try. I have a few friends at work who swore by SW and seemed to be having real success. What appealed to me was that so many food groups seemed to be ‘free’ and there is no need to weigh out foods when cooking which can make things seem harder work.

I’ve officially been joined for 2 weeks now, and have my first weigh in tomorrow night so fingers crossed for a loss! I’ve found it difficult to work out how SW works as so many of the foods which are free were high in points on WW, but I think what it boils down to is that the SW plan is just so low in fat, so that if you focus your diet on the free and ‘super’ free foods you’re barely consuming any fat.

Unfortunately, being on a diet somewhat limits baking opportunities, therefore I am going to (temporarily) switch the focus of my blog posts to share some of the slimming world recipes which I particularly enjoy. I have found it’s such an easy eating plan, so I hope people enjoy the recipes that I post!