Today has needed cake, I have spent in all in a sleep deprived fog looking after a toddler who is full of cold. I am so exhausted that I tried to open our front door by pressing the unlock button on our car key, and I tried to put a box of cereal in the fridge. You know those days where your brain never wakes up so needs a constant supply of sugar & caffeine to get through the day without walking into a wall?! Yeah that!
Anyway I wanted cake.....actually I needed
cake, but had zero energy or motivation to make one! Luckily about 6 months ago thanks to the wonders of Pinterest
I discovered that there is such a thing as a microwave brownie in a mug! The original recipe I used was from here
, but I found it to be too dry. So after a bit of tinkering I have come up with my perfect Brownie....and it literally takes 2 minutes from start to finish! It's pretty life changing for a cake lover!
If you want the recipe to be vegan just omit the chocolate chips.
This is perfect for days when you fancy something sweet but are running low on supplies & I personally think it's as yummy as any shop bought desert & costs about 20p to make! This serves 2 people really, but don't feel bad if you eat a whole one to yourself.....we've all done it before!
**I have used proper measuring cups for the ingredients not the mug just in case people think it's a 1/4 of the mug. That would be a massive cake though! :)
Microwave Brownie Recipe:
1/4 cup of golden caster sugar
1/4 cup of self raising flour
3 heaped tsp of coco powder
2 tbsp of sunflower oil
1/4 cup of warm water
Pinch of salt.
To mix it up a bit I add one of the following to the mixture, depending on my mood:
1tsp cinnamon ( for a more wintery feel!)
A handful of white chocolate chips (for those days when you want it really sweet!)
1 tbsp of sour cherry jam (for a black forrest brownie)
1: Get a large microwavable mug. Add all of the dry ingredients & mix well.
2: Add the oil & water and mix until you have a smooth cake mixture.
3. Add any of the additional choc chips, jam or spices now & mix in.
4. Pop in the microwave on high for 1.5 minutes.
5. Serve with cream or ice-cream if you fancy or eat it straight from the mug.
As I have mentioned before, I am totally in love with using my slow cooker. Time is limited in our house, especially in the evenings so I really like to have dinner ready with as minimal fuss as possible. Especially lately as I have been teaching a lot in the evenings so I need sometime that can be ready for the Mr (who can cook toast & oven chips......nothing else!) to have with Henry for dinner. Also when I am tired after trying to get stuff done around the house, running after Henry & sorting out Homemade mama stuff the temptation to get takeaway is strong.....but our bank account can't afford such a luxury! If dinner is already cooked in the slow cooker this problem doesn't arise, meaning we save money & still get a delicious dinner...win, win!
Anyway I love mexican food, burritos especially, but always find the process of cooking black beans a bit laborious! However I decided to see if I could make a 'cheats' burrito in the slow cooker.......and it worked!! It was delicious! I have frozen a big pot of it as well as it was quite a hefty serving.
Because the whole point of this is for it to be quick & easy I served it with 'microwaved' rice, but next time I may try adding rice to the beans for the last hour of cooking to see how that works out.
So here's the recipe.
Preparation time: 5 minutesCooking time: 5-7 hours.
Serves 4-6 people
Ingredients:1 large onion1 red pepper1 orange or yellow pepper1 green pepper2 cloves of garlic crushed250g of black beans (soaked over night)1 pint of boiling water1 teaspoon of chilli powder1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper1 teaspoon of smoked paprikaLarge handful of fresh thyme stalks1 tablespoon of Soy Sauce
1 heaped tablespoon of Smokey Chipotle paste. (optional)
1 small tin of sweetcorn (drained)
1: Chop the onion & peppers & add them to the slow cooker pot along with the balck beans and crushed garlic. Stir all the ingredients together.
2: Add the chilli Powder, paprika, cayenne pepper & thyme to the pot & Mix
3: Stir in the boiling water & Soy Sauce.
4: Cover & cook on low for 5-7 hours depending on your slow cooker.
5: Just before you serve the beans add the chipotle paste, sweetcorn & season to taste.
6: Serve in tortillas with rice, salsa, guacamole, salad cheese & Sour Cream
This meal may not look like much on the plate but it was so delicious!! It's extra nice for me as I really wasn't feeling food over the weekend & I'm ashamed to say that the only thing I craved was french fries! I always want junk food when I'm sick!
We get an organic Vegetable box delivered once a fortnight & this weeks offering contained a spaghetti squash. I have been wanting to try this for ages after reading that it makes for a great substitute for pasta. Anyway I thought I would share the recipe as I know quite a few people who also get Veg boxes and may be at a loss on what to do with their spaghetti squash! It was really tasty and much lighter than a bowl of pasta (which was great as it left us plenty of space for apple pie! for desert!).
Serves: 2 adults & 1 toddler.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
1 medium spaghetti Squash
3 large Portobello mushrooms, sliced.
1/2 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves of garlic, crushed.
handful of basil leaves, chopped finely
1 large knob of butter
drizzle of olive oil
2 handfuls of spinach leaves.
Grated hard cheese such as parmesan.
Grated Black pepper.
1. Slice the squash in half & scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking tray flesh side down & bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 190°/Gas Mark 5.
2. While the squash is baking, drizzle the olive oil into a frying pan, when the pan is hot add the sliced mushrooms and crushed garlic cloves. Fry until the mushrooms have softened.
3. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and fry. When they have softened turn the heat down. Now add the basil, butter & Spinach. Cover the frying pan and cook for 2 minutes & then turn off the heat.
4. When the squash is cooked remove from the oven & scrape out the flesh with a fork & add it to the ingredients in the frying pan. Try to separate the strands with the fork so that the squash looks like actual spaghetti.
5. Now cover it all with a generous amount of grated cheese & mix together. Sprinkle with black pepper & serve.
Ok so you know I said I was excited about autumn, well I really meant it! I dug my slow cooker out from the back of the cupboard on Friday & I have already cooked 2 meals in it! I love having a slow cooker as it give us more time to relax as a family in the evening......I don't have to worry about dinner as it's already been cooked! I just chuck everything in the slow cooker in the morning & like magic we have dinner ready as soon as the Mister gets home from work. Plus the house smells amazing with dinner cooking throughout the day......although i have to admit this does make me hungry!
Ken's working hours have changed recently & involve an earlier start, but thankfully also an earlier finish. However the earlier start means that breakfast has been neglected over the last 2 weeks in our house, often just grabbing something on the go. This is not good for me as I have been indulging in pastries ALOT & my waistline is not very happy about this matter. So in my excitement about my slow cooker & autumn food I had a flash of inspiration......Slow cooker porridge!! You can pop the slow cooker in a timer plug & wake up to delicious porridge. Now I know that I'm a bit early with autumn, but just imagine how great this will be when the mornings are cold, dark & generally a chore again! Like waking up to a warm hug! AWESOME!
Anyway I cooked this for breakfast yesterday as my Mum & Step-Dad came over to do some DIY on our house & I wanted something hassle free to cook for us all. It went down a treat & I know i'll be eating this alot over the coming months. Sorry for the poor quality picture.....I was hungry & in a hurry to eat my breakfast couldn't be bothered to take a decent one!
Slow Cooker Apple & Cinnamon porridge:
Ingredients: * 1 pint of boiling water
* 1/2 pint of milk or soya milk
* 150g porridge oats
* 2 apples, peeled & diced into small cubes
* 4 teaspoons of muscovado sugar
* 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon
1. Pour the water & milk into the slow cooker pot & then add the oats in stirring constantly.
2. Add the apple, cinnamon & sugar & stir well.
3. Cover with the lid & cook on low for 1-1.5 hours depending on how thick you want the porridge. I like mine quite thick so cooked for 1.5 hours, but if you like it runnier then an hour will suffice.
4.Serve the porridge with a sprinkle of cinnamon & chocolate chips or raisins (depending on how healthy you want to be!)
I feel like I haven't really been on the internet in weeks! I haven't blogged, and I've barely tweeted or used Instagram which if you follow me on either you'll know is quite out of character. The brief times that i have been online, especially on Twitter i have been overwhelmed with the support and caring messages that people have sent! I haven't managed to reply to many of them but every single one was greatly appreciated and has been a boost to my very low spirits! So Thank you to my lovely followers you are all amazing!! However apart from catching a few minutes to tweet on my phone I haven't had time to have any real online presence lately, in fact I'm at the point where I cannot remember the last time that I just sat back and relaxed.......Me time just doesn't exist anymore! Don't get me wrong, I'm not moaning about it, and I know it will pass soon enough but I have struggled to keep up with the demands of life lately. In between looking after a very poorly toddler, trips to hospital & the doctors, sleepless nights, feeling poorly myself and then running knitting lessons I have fallen behind with everything! Emails have gone unanswered, blog post remain unwritten & I've done next to no promotion for my upcoming knitting classes and don't even get me started on housework!
I was only just starting to find my feet and get in to a good routine as a self employed Mama when Henry got ill and I feel a little bit like all of my hard work has been undone. There have been several times over the last few weeks where it's all got a bit much and I've questioned whether it is possible to balance being a stay at home Mama and trying to start your own business......there are no sick days, no parental leave to look after children & there is no nursery to drop Henry off to when I need to get stuff done. I have wanted to cancel all my lessons and just tell people that I can't do it anymore! I can't keep up with trying to promote the lessons, doing admin, and teaching while looking after a very clingy poorly 17 month old. Add this is the stress and worry of seeing your child suddenly get really ill and not knowing how to fix it & what you get is a Mama who has cried ALOT lately!
I also get quite scared when I get this tired & run down because tiredness has always been one of my major epilepsy triggers. Whenever I have been run down in the past it has had a direct effect on the number and severity of seizures that I have had. So I have to remind myself that even though things are tough i need to look after myself especially so even though I'm tired and can't be bothered to cook I know I have to carry on eating (especially as I'm breastfeeding so much to make up for the lack of food in Henry's diet!). I thought i would share with you the recipe for one of the few meals that Henry & I have enjoyed over the last weeks! They were vegan banana pancakes......if i'm being honest the only reason they were vegan was because I had run out of eggs & couldn't be bothered to go out & buy some more!
Vegan Banana Pancakes:
175g Self Raising Flour
220ml Soya Milk
1 large or 2 small ripe bananas
1 tpsp Vegetable oil
1 tbsp Maple syrup
pinch of salt (optional)
1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together
2. Mash up the banana with a fork then add the soya milk & oil.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients & stir well until fully combined.
4. Add 2 heaped tablespoons worth of the mixture (per pancake) to a hot oiled frying pan frying on one side until air bubbles start to form in the pancake & underside appears golden in colour.
5. Flip pancake & cook until golden on other side.
6. Serve with lots of maple syrup!!
Anyway I hope you enjoy the pancakes & I hope to be blogging a bit more over the coming week as I'm sure things will improve for Henry health wise very soon! xxx
I've been a bit quiet on the blog this week as it's just been really busy, but at the same time nothing really blog worthy has happened. I've spent the majority of my time fighting off a cold whilst trying to appease a very grumpy teething toddler and trying to sort out everything for my knitting lessons. I'm a pretty tired Mama at the moment if I'm honest. All of this has meant that I have been having some serious cake cravings lately......sometimes only cake will do!
As you all know I have been trying to cut dairy out of my diet as much as possible to help with my PCOS, and as a result I have been experimenting with Vegan cake recipes to try and find make one that tastes as good as non-vegan cake. And I'm feeling quite chuffed with myself as I think this Lemon Cake recipe that I threw together really is the best vegan cake I've tasted! It's 100% vegan, 100% easy and 100% delicious! If you fancy a low fat cake option you can't go wrong with this lemon cake, it really is worth a try!
Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake:
275g Self-Raising Flour
200g Golden Caster Sugar
1 tbsp Baking Poweder
zest & juice of 2 lemons
100ml Sunflower Oil
150g Icing sugar
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160℃/ Gasmark 5
2. Put the flour, baking powder, sugar and Lemon zest in a bowl & mix well.
3. Mix the water & Oil together in a jug, and then slowly add to the dry mixture, stirring the mixture well until fully combined.
4. Place into a lined loaf tin & Bake for 30 minutes, until golden & cooked in the centre.
5. Once the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven & stab it with a cake tester/ chopstick/ fork all over the top of the cake.
6. Mix the icing sugar & lemon juice together well & pour over the top of the cake while it is still hot. Leave the cake in the tin to cool.
7. After about 20 minutes take the cake out of the tin to finish cooling. Then eat it when ever you're ready!
Ok so I fell of the sugar & dairy wagon yesterday. I was feeling terribly hormonal and feeling pretty sorry for myself in all honesty so i made a massive cake to make me feel better. I hardly ever make cake for myself anymore because other people are always asking me to bake cakes for their birthday/special occasions and it's started to feel a bit like a chore. Lets face it where is the fun in constantly baking cake when you never get a chance to eat any of it?!?
So last night my feelings were telling me to eat Vanilla sponge cake with mascarpone & strawberry filling. It tasted pretty damn good even if i do say so myself......but then naughty forbidden food always tastes good doesn't it?! However the remaining half of the cake has been sent into work with the Mr today to save me from my own lack of will power! 😜 🍰
I thought i would share this cake recipe with you all for full disclosure reasons......i won't only just post recipes when i'm being super healthy & virtuous. I'll also share those moments when i cave & do that terribly girly thing of eating my feelings. We all give in to temptation occasionally right & surely it's better to eat a home baked cake rather than a sub-standard & unsatisfying shop bought alternative?
Victoria Sponge with Mascarpone & Strawberry filling:
For the cake:
* 335g soft unsalted butter
* 335g golden caster sugar
* 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
* 4 large eggs
* 335g self-raising flour
* 2 teaspoons of baking powder
* 5 tablespoons of milk
2 x 9" sandwich tins, lined at the bottom & greased.For the filling:
* 6 tablespoons of good quality strawberry jam
* 1 large tub of mascarpone cheese (300g)
* 1/2 a punnet of strawberries, washed & sliced.For the topping:
* 1 tablespoon of icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180℃/Gas mark 4.
- Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract & eggs (add the eggs one at a time.)
- Gradually add the flour & baking powder, mixing until fully incorporated into the mix.
- Add the milk and mix together quickly getting plenty of air in to the mixture.
- Pour the batter evenly into the 2 cake tins & bake for 30 minutes, until the cakes are golden in colour, coming away slightly from the edge of the cake tin & springy to touch. I always use a thin cake-tester too to ensure that the centre of the cake is fully cooked.
- Leave them to rest in the tin for 15 minutes then remove from tins & leave to cool on a cake rack.
- Once the cakes are cool, put one one a plate/cake stand and spread with Jam.
- Whisk up the mascarpone to make it light & fluffy then spread on top of the jam.
- Add the sliced strawberries evenly over the surface of the filling.
- Sit the other cake on top & sprinkle with icing sugar.
- Make a cup of tea & eat a big slice of cake!
The boys of the house both enjoyed the cake too, so I don't feel so bad in making such an indulgent & PCOS diet breaking treat! Although I have to admit that Henry made us look bad as he mainly ate t
I hope you all enjoy it too & would love to hear how your versions of the recipe turn out.
We have been feeling a little under the weather in our household over the last few days. I was too poorly yesterday to make it in to the city centre to visit the food Market which is on as part of Bristol'd Big Green Week. I love that Bristol is so environmentally friendly and that there are so many fantastic ethical restaurants here such as The Ethicurean & The Thali Cafes. In our household we aside from being vegetarians we also make every effort to shop locally and to eat with the seasons, because not only is it better for the environment, it is cheaper & the food tastes so much better!
I started to feel a little better last night & really fancied some clean fresh tasting food & this is what i came up with for our dinner: A warm green veg & new potato salad with Mint pesto. Everything in this dish is in season now and if you are anything like me you'll have plenty of mint in your garden right now........it's loving this wet & occasionally sunny weather we are having & growing like mad! As i'm still being quite strict with my PCOS diet this is another dairy free, low GI recipe so it's pretty damn good for you. Enjoy!
Warm Green Veg & New Potato Salad with Mint Pesto:
- For the Salad:
- 600g New potatoes
- 1 large bunch of Asparagus
- 2 Courgettes
- 100g Sugar snap peas
- Lettuce leaves of your choice
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- a handful of pine nut kernels
- For the pesto:
- 2 generous handfuls of fresh mint
- 50g of unsalted Cashew nuts & pine nut kernels
- 75ml Olive Oil
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt & Black Pepper
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Serves 3-4 adults.
The Warm Green Salad:
- Preheat oven to 200℃.
- Halve the new potatoes, place on a baking tray & drizzle with olive oil. cook in the oven for 30minutes.
- Wash all of the green veg.
- Chop the courgette into long chunky strips & cut the thick ends off of the asparagus.
- Drizzle a little olive oil in a pan & fry off the greens until tender.
- Add the pine nuts to toast. When browned, turn off the heat & squeeze lemon juice over the veg.
- Place a lid over the pan while you prepare the pesto.
- Remove all of the mint leaves from the hard stems & wash under cold water.
- Put the mint, nuts, olive oil, lemon juice in a food processor & blend until smooth. Season to taste.
- Take the potatoes out of the oven & serve in the centre of the plates. Place salad leaves & green veg mixture around the edge.
- Drizzle with pesto & enjoy!
So the PCOS friendly diet is going quite well (I only say quite as I'm still falling off the sugar wagon sometimes!) and i'm really happy with some of my dairy & lo GI food experiments lately. I find lunchtime is the hardest meal to stay healthy with as i'm usually in a rush & craving a quick 'pick me up' so I've been searching for some super quick ideas for me & Henry to have for lunch. I came up with these avocado & tomato dip recipes which are great for yours & any little ones lunch, but would also be great to dip tortilla chips in at a party.
I know that as a mum is can be quite hard finding things to give your little one that you like as well so i thought i'd share these for you all to try. The tomato dip also goes down a treat served over warm pasta for lunch the next day too! Yummy!
However a firm favourite with us is to eat these dips spread on toasted bread.......well because toast is awesome!
I used butter beans as the base for both dips as i love them & always have tins of them in the cupboard, however you can substitute for another bean if you prefer. Cannellini beans also work really well. These dips are a great source of protein, mono-unsaturated fats & vitamin B & C so you can tuck in knowing you're giving yourself lots of lovely goodness!
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!
Tomato & Butter bean dip:
up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
400g tin butter beans drained & rinsed
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic chopped
1tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
a generous handful of chopped basil & parsley
ground black pepper (salt optional, but not advised if feeding to children.)
- Drain all of the juice from the chopped tomatoes into a separate bowl. Place the tomatoes into the bowl & add the drained beans, garlic, herbs, lemon juice & olive oil. Blend together in a blender or using a hand blender.
- Add a small amount of the drained tomato juice if you think the dip is too thick.
- Season to taste.
- Serve on toasted french stick or pitta bread with fresh tomatoes & Cucumber.
Avocado, Red onion & Butter bean dip:
up to 2 days in the fridge in an air tight container.
1 very ripe avocado.
1/4 large red onion
juice of 1 lime
400g of drained & rinsed butter beans
Handful of coriander (optional).
- Peal, pit & slice the avocado & place in the bowl & cover with the juice of the lime.
- Finely dice the red onion & add to the bowl with the avocado.
- Add the butter beans & coriander & blend in the food processor or using a hand blender.
- Serve on toasted bread or with tortilla wraps that have been baked in the oven until slightly crispy. Add chopped red peppers & cucumber for added crunch.
I have been meaning to post this recipe for about a month but i kept forgetting to do it. However i was out with my lovely friend Jo
last night & she gave me a gentle reminder to post the recipe as she had beetroot waiting for it's moment of brownie glory! I also thought that now would be the perfect time to post this as it makes a great guilt free cake to take with you to any jubilee parties that you may be attending this weekend.
I am not a vegan, i am however a vegetarian who doesn't consume any cows milk due to my PCOS friendly diet
. However i have found that some vegan recipes are actually nicer than their non-vegan alternatives, and this is my greatest recipe yet i think! Chocolate & beetroot goes amazingly well together & i'm pretty sure you can get away with considering one of these brownies as one of your 5 a day!
Anyway i hope you enjoy these!
Vegan Beetroot Brownies
125g Plain flour
80g dark coco powder (or 100g melted bitter chocolate)
80g Golden caster sugar
2 tbsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
75g chopped nuts of your choice (i use brazils/walnuts/hazelnuts/pecans)
80ml Hazelnut milk (or soya/almond milk will do, i just love the nutella flavour hazelnut milk gives)
80ml sunflower oil
1 very ripe banana, mashed.1 tbsp vanilla extract
45g grated fresh beetroot.
25g bitter chocolate chips or chunks
- Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4 & line a 28x18cm baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, coco powder, sugar, baking powder and nuts.
- In a separate bowl or jug mix together the hazelnut milk, oil, mashed banana and the vanilla extract.
- Gradually add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture.
- Now add the grated beetroot and stir until just combined. The mixture will be quite thick.
- Pour the mixture into the lined tray & top with chocolate chunks.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin, then cut into squares and dust with icing sugar.
- Eat them all!!