Tag Archives: cooking

The Wonderbag!

The Wonderbag!

logo-wonderbag

I have made a ‘wonderful’ discovery and it is a wonderful bag called a ‘Wonderbag.’  Seriously.  Much to my chagrin this is not a sponsored post so I can’t actually give you a demonstration as to how wonderful a ‘Wonderbag’ is, but I’m reliably informed that it is indeed wonderful.  My friend has one and loves it.  Here’s a picture of it:

I am in absolute wonder at the Wonder Bag. Cool innit!  No it's not a hat or a pet bed.

I am in absolute wonder at the Wonderbag. Cool innit! No it’s not a hat or a pet bed.

What is this you may ask?  As I’ve said, it is a bag that is full of wonder.  Well, not quite.  I don’t quite know how you’d contain wonder in a bag, I guess it would be rather difficult.

Speaking half sensibly though, this is a low tech version of a slow cooker as far as I can see.  I own a slow cooker and I love it, it’s great for cooking warming soups and broths and making cheap cuts of meat taste like food fit for royalty.  This is one step on from this method of cooking, only cleverereereerer.

The images below describe very succinctly how to use one of these:

img-how-wonderbag-works

All you do is heat your food up on the hob and then you bob it in the Wonderbag, pull the drawstring so the bag is closed, leave it for hours (exactly the same principle as a slow cooker) and then when you decide your food is thoroughly cooked and ready to serve……you dish it out and eat it!  Simple really.

Hungry?  Sort of like the 'boil in the bag' principle but better.

Hungry? Sort of like the ‘boil in the bag’ principle but better.

The bag itself is made up of two layers of fabric (inside and outside) and the filling is recycled polystyrene which is the insulator that allows your food to cook whilst in the bag.  Basically this a heat retention device that cooks your dinner.  I’m impressed.

As you know, if you cook a casserole the initial part of the process is on the hob and then you have to leave it in the oven for hours using gas or electricity.  The Wonderbag allows you to miss out the last stage and all the associated energy costs.  You kickstart the cooking process on the hob and leave the bag to do the rest.    This week British Gas announced profits that were frankly too ridiculous for me to remember exactly, something like 60 million, put it this way, it was a lot.  More than I have in my piggy bank for sure.  I would love to stop putting money in their pockets and keep a bit more for me and my family, as far as I can see the Wonderbag would be a great way of doing that.

What I really love is that this product was designed with the developing world in mind.  For every Wonderbag that is bought, another Wonderbag is donated to a family in Africa.  Share and share alike. *round of applause from me*

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In Africa the Wonderbag is ideal as they have limited fuel resources and  facilities for cooking in some areas.  It’s a brilliantly practical invention and it’s made with recycled materials too, so the environmental impact is limited.

I am surprised that the material used is either hand wash or machine wash in cool water, surely food is going to end up dripped on the bag quite regularly and it would be so much more helpful if you could just chuck it in the washing machine? Then again, I’m no expert, maybe there’s some reason for this I don’t know about.

The Wonderbag have a very informative, interesting WEBSITE that I’ve spent ages browsing, their ethos is admirable, their product seems perfectly practical and I just think they’re worth investing in.  I know I’m saving up for one.  They do seem rather pricey at £30 for a small one and £70 for a large one, but if you consider that you’re actually buying two and giving one to charity, it suddenly doesn’t seem quite so bad.  Mind you you can get a decent slow cooker for about £15 squid these days, but they do still use energy.  The Wonderbag will no doubt save you money over time after the initial blow to your bank account.

This one is my absolute favourite.  Love the colours!

This one is my absolute favourite. Love the colours and the little flower pattern.

I can see the Wonderbag being an absolute gem if you go camping a lot.  Bring your food to the boil, bung it in the bag whilst you’re out climbing mountains  and then come back to a hot dinner.  If you go on a long journey in the car, just take your casserole or rice dish with you (you can actually cook a whole range of things in this) and have a proper meal en route.  Forget soggy tuna butties, you can eat something far nicer with one of these.   ‘Don’t eat sandwiches that sag, eat wonderful food with a Wonderbag!’  Honestly, I should do more slogan competitions.  Or maybe I should just ban myself from exclamation marks and bad poetry.

No more soggy saggy butties!

No more soggy saggy butties!

If I ever manage to save up for one of these I promise, hand on heart to post recipes that’ll make your mouth water and you’ll maybe think about getting one yourself?  It seems like such a great product and such a good cause.  Donating money to charity is one thing, but I think I feel better donating a gift that will keep on giving.  You buy yourself something that eventually saves you money and you help a family in Africa too.  Plus they look fantastic and I’d love to have one to display in our kitchen (once I’ve cleared all the mounds of washing up  away that is).

This is not a sponsored post, I just think Wonderbag, and everything about it, looks wonderful. End of. I only have my friend’s recommendation to go off, but I trust her implicitly and can’t wait to get one myself so I can start cooking wonderful recipes and saving a bit of cash too.

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Hot Dogs and Horse Lasagne.

Hot Dogs and Horse Lasagne.

This week I spent more time than usual staring suspiciously at the contents of my freezer.  I think I have a selection of fish fingers, turkey mince, beef mince, frozen chips, mixed frozen vegetables and a small chicken in there – but do I?  Could I really be storing an unusually large rabbit, frozen lumps of squishy multicoloured flavoured playdoh, minced monkey fingers coated with breadcrumbs and mechanically minced and reformed potatoes.  It’s anyone’s guess really.  Do I know where the food originated from?  No.  Did I even check the packets for ingredients before I bought them? No.  Should I be feeding them to my family?  Maybe not.

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This is a competition! Pls post a comment if you’d like the chance to win an afternoon defrosting this freezer. I shall keep you company and shout encouragement. I might even let you borrow my hairdryer if you promise not to electrocute yourself and sue me.  Tell your friends! This is a once in a lifetime competition, don’t miss out or you’ll be left in the cold. Ba-boom-tish!

It’s shameful really.  Here’s the sum total of my knowledge.  A little red tractor on packaging is good, I think it means that the food came from British farmers. And then there’s a long pause while I think for a while and drink tea……….nope, that’s it.  I know almost nothing else about food standards.  I hang my head in shame and remember that I fed my kids cheap chicken nuggets the day before yesterday. Bad, bad me.

Is it a tractor?  Is it a fallen over F?  Is the food safe?  Apparently so.

What the F are we eating?

Every now and then when I’m feeling very virtuous I’ll do a load of over complicated home cooking which is fun, but very time consuming and sometimes inedible.  This drives me to freezer fodder.  At least the kids eat it!  But then that is probably because they’re laden with salt, sugar and additives.  It’s lazy and bad for them.  I’ve always thought I should make more of an effort and I have to say this week’s food labelling fraud news has been a kick in the backside for me.  I really need to review what we buy, where it comes from and how it affects our health.

I copied this image from here: http://www.stuartwilde.com/2013/01/irish-meat-factory-closed-after-horsemeat-found-in-burgers/  I thought it summarised the situation nicely. Horse+Burgers=CarelessSupermarkets

I copied this image from here: www.stuartwilde.com thought it summarised the situation nicely. Horse+Burgers=Careless Supermarkets.  I hope Stuart doesn’t mind.

If we are what we eat, I don’t want any of us turning into processed lumps of pink reformed sausage meat.  Dearest Horace, I love you dearly, but if you want hot dogs (which very well could be reconstituted dogs if these revelations are anything to go by), you’ll have to buy them and cook them yourself.

Eating healthily can’t be that hard can it?  I have decided to make a few definite changes.

A) Find a practical easy to follow cook book with simple recipes in that don’t involve stupid exotic ingredients I can’t find – and use it!  (instead of just reading it).  This cookbook seems ideal, it works on the principle that anyone can learn to cook which is a good start as I’m no pro.

'Oh Ministry of Food, save me from Processed Food Hell!'  Kay kneels in front of the oven in mock prayer.

‘Oh Ministry of Food, save me from Processed Food Hell!’ Kay kneels in front of the oven in mock prayer.

B) Get registered with a veg box scheme so I know I’m supporting local farmers and that we’re eating seasonal veg that hasn’t been transported over from Timbuktoo.  This scheme seems like a good option:  Riverford Organic Farms

Seasonal, local and organic.  Doesn't get much better than that.  My Mother In Law gets swamped with pumpkins every now and then with this scheme, but she has the best pumpkin cake recipe in the world so I reckon this is still a practical option for us.

Seasonal, local and organic. Doesn’t get much better than that. My Mother In Law gets swamped with pumpkins every now and then with this scheme, but she has the best pumpkin cake recipe in the world which I plan to steal, so I reckon this is still a practical option for us.

C) Buy from a butcher rather than from a supermarket if at all possible.  I’m considering one of these grass fed, free range, ‘I’m having a really happy life right until someone shoots me with a bolt gun’ animal, meat box delivery schemes. (I’m not sure about these because they all seem very expensive.  This would mean we’d eat far less meat, because we simply couldn’t afford so much, but at least we’d know where it came from!  This is one company I’ve considered:   The Well Hung Meat Company

I'd feel so much happier knowing my meat was properly sourced.  Is this too expensive and 'posh' for the likes of us though?

I’d feel so much happier knowing my meat was properly sourced. Is this too expensive and ‘posh’ for the likes of us though?

D)  Processed meat is off the menu and in the bin.  If we want meatballs we’ll make the things.  They’re only balls of meat when all’s said and done aren’t they.

In summary!  If we do all of these things we will probably be a bit skint, but I’ll feel a whole lot  happier about what goes on our plates and in our tummies.   I’ll also have to invest in more time spent cooking, but so be it.  There’s no harm in trying.

I’ll be honest, this recent news story has really made me reassess our nation’s current eating habits and more importantly ours.  Perhaps it’s time for a change.

If anyone out there has had similar thoughts, I’d appreciate the feedback.  What do you do to ensure your family eats healthily?  Where do you shop?  What do you cook?  What do you look for on food labels?  How do you do this healthy eating thing?  I want to know because I think my lazy days of eating whatever falls off the supermarket shelf at the cheapest price are over.   I know I can’t be on my own here.

This is not a sponsored post and is nowt to do with with any of the companies mentioned on here.

Our Very First Harvest!

Our Very First Harvest!

We have owned the garden across the road for about a year now and I am proud to say, so far we have lopped a load of massively overgrown Christmas trees down and destroyed masses of bushes of unknown origin.  We are rocking the ‘Garden Thing!’ whatever that is.

As you can see our garden is beautifully manicured, well maintained and not at all rainforest like.

In addition to this, last year I had a load of peppers, cucumbers and other veggies in the polytunnel which Sweara (MIL) gave me.   I would love to say that they grew really well and we had a fantastic harvest and I spent many hours slaving over a hot stove making home made veggie curries etc ….but I can’t, because I didn’t, I murdered the plants instead.  In cold blood I’m afraid. I deprived them of human comfort and denied them water. I’m a plant killer.  Bad me.  Very bad me really.  My initial burst of enthusiasm was dampened by drizzle and laziness.  There I’ve admitted it.   I promise to try harder.

At least this year we’ve managed our first proper harvest!  It’s erm…potatoes.  Yes, I know!  Potatoes grow themselves really, and it’s not hard and it’s nothing to be really proud of, but goddamit I am proud anyway!  We grew something and now we get to eat it!  In yer face ASDA!

Sausage shouted ‘Potatoes-tatoes-tatoooes!’ hysterically quite a bit. He was very excited and sulked if no-one passed him any to put in the spud box.

I know a bag of spuds cost barely anything and the effort that goes into growing your own is hardly worth it really, but we get completely organic, home grown potatoes on our plates within hours of them coming out of the ground this way.  How cool is that!

Darlek shows off our very first harvest! Spuds, glorious spuds! *bursts into song*

I’ll admit finding finding potatoes with suspicious holes in and finding weird wiggly things in the spud box is a bit of a downer, but I’m willing to persevere with this regardless.  There’s something so rewarding about digging them out of the soil, I think it’s the remainder of the hunter / gatherer instinct.  I get the same satisfaction from picking berries and collecting eggs.

My parents used to keep hens until a fox massacred the lot of them one gory night.  I do like foxes, but I don’t like it when they mix with livestock very much.  I’ve toyed with the idea of chickens a lot recently, but I’m not sure if I could cope with Reservoir Foxes in my back yard if one of the blighters gets into the garden and has a feeding frenzy.  Maybe we will have feathered friends, maybe we won’t.

Apples of the earth! We have more Pomme de Terres than we know what to do with!

So what’s for tea then? Mashed spuds with a side order of chips? Or maybe wedges with boiled potatoes for pudding?

I do love that the kids got so excited about our very first harvest.  Sausage and Darlek both know exactly where potatoes come from, they’ve planted them, watered them and dug them up too. From what I can gather they really enjoyed the experience and I do hope that they continue to be enthusiastic about where their food comes from and pay attention to how it’s grown a little from now on.  If nothing else I’ll be happy if Sausage now knows potatoes don’t grow on trees and Darlek remembers that a single potato has the potential to grow and multiply itself many, many times.  It really is quite amazing that one single lonesome spud has the potential to reproduce itself so many times.  Nature is amazing, it’s easy to forget that sometimes I think.

Treasure! We found the spout of a tea-pot which I thought looked very much like a tiny brown leg. So it’s not a mahoosive slug, or a poo before you say as much.

After a lot of digging and muttering about mucky fingernails, we took a bag of them indoors and I washed them in the sink.  The colour of the water was disgusting, Sausage refused to put his hands in there although he did like plopping them in the water in the first place.  I decided to make boiled new potatoes to go with our erm…..supermarket bought pizza and beans out of a tin.  Classy meal eh!  Well, maybe not completely ‘In yer face ASDA!’, maybe just a quick ‘Ner-ner-ne-neer-ner!’ instead.

Tiny spuds! Some were the size of marbles and were actually cute. I’ve never seen ‘cute’ potatoes before.

Here’s the end result!  I know the meal itself wasn’t exactly nutritious and that Annabel Karmel would probably tut at it, but at least it included home grown, organic, freshly dug, cute potatoes!

I think the potatoes cancelled out the trashiness of the rest of the meal, or at least that’s what I told myself anyway.

So there you have it, our very first harvest.  From garden to plate!  I noticed the peas have grown too today, so we will be sitting in front of the TV snacking on crunchy pea-pods instead of popcorn very soon too.  I’m sure the kids will be overjoyed.  Maybe, maybe not.  Most likely I’ll resort to bartering, ‘If you eat three of those pea-pods, you can have some Coca-Cola.’  Well it’s a start isn’t it!

A Jubilee Cake!

A Jubilee Cake!

I have only ever made three cakes in my entire life, including this one.  This is how much of an amateur I am. I have made buns which are sort of mini cakes, but they don’t count really do they.

When Bart Spices asked me to make a cake I thought they’d simply gone off their rockers or something.  I can do basic savoury dishes, but cake?!!!  I sat staring at the email for a couple of minutes, tapping my fingers on the computer desk, drinking tea, thinking……dare I?  Obviously I’d have to blog it, however badly it turned out.  Well, in the end I thought I might as well live life dangerously and have a go!  What the hell, I had nothing more exciting to do on that day other than run the dishwasher with the knives and forks stuck in the rack thing the wrong way round.  (Very dangerous dontcha know!)

Can I just state, I’m not actually keen on royalty, but I am mad about cake and this is as good an excuse as any to indulge.

Here’s what I used for the sponge cake!

½ tsp Bart Bristol Blend Five Peppercorns
½ tsp Bart Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Bart Ground Ginger
¼ tsp Bart Ground Nutmeg
2 tsp Bart Mint (Freeze Dried)
250g self-raising flour
¼ tsp salt
250g margarine or butter
250g Bart Vanilla Sugar
4 eggs, beaten and a partridge in a pear tree.

My sous chef and I prepared the cake tins:

I greased the cake tin, both sides of the greaseproof paper and my son. Think I may have overdone things a little.

I always think it’s best to include the kids when I cook, they like it and so do I, sort of.  Usually I end up yelling ‘Nooooo!!!! Not in there!’ and ‘If you don’t stop licking your fingers I’ll chop ’em off!’ and things like that, but it’s all fun. *ahem!*

Next I creamed together the butter and the Vanilla sugar (which in my case was sugar with a vanilla pod scraped into it).  I’ve never used a vanilla pod before, and I love them!  They’re rather reminiscent of tiny caviar eggs – not that I actually know what caviar looks like, it’s just a guess.

I christened my food processor! I’ve had it for two years, it’s been unassembled for one year and ignored for the other. To my shame up to this day, I’d only ever made one smoothie in it.

Then I added the four eggs to the mixture, along with all the dry spices.  I loved the look of the cake mix once it all blended in.  Despite being very wary of the mint and the pepper, it added a really nice christmassy mulled spice flavour. By this point I couldn’t wait to cook it!

It tasted as good as it looks!

Following this we poured it into 2 cake tins (ideally 2 cake tins, 20cm round), and sat licking the bowl whilst staring hungrily at the oven while it cooked for 20 – 25 minutes at gas mark 4 / 180C.  We left them to cool in the tins for ten mins, then tipped them onto a wire rack.  I did not bite a huge piece out of the side, it fell off. Honest.

Here are the cooked, cooled sponge cakes with the raw ingredients for the topping. Remember not to leave small children alone with a bowl of strawberries. They eat them when you’re not looking.

To help keep Sausage involved, I asked him to take the tops off the strawberries, so he ate about 4 of them without me realising.  While he was sneaky-eating strawberries I combined  250 g of cream cheese with 150ml of double cream and 100g of icing sugar until it was beaten to a delicious sloppy white fluffyish, gooey texture.

One cake tin was bigger than the other so I had to cut the excess off once I’d turned it into a cake burger…see next picture.

Then we got to the fun bit!  Sausage and I slapped the cream-cheese topping onto both of the cooled sponges and slithered a spatula over each side until reasonably smooth.  Half the remaining strawberries (some halved, some quartered) were liberally plonked on one half and then the other sponge was delicately sandwiched on top of it. I was delighted to see the cream cheese oozed out of the sides a little.  Obviously I had to tidy that up a little – and of course eat the excess.

Finally I put another load of cream-cheese on the top, smoothed it as best I could and then began decorating it.  Not meaning to ‘over-egg the pudding’ as they say, but it took me absolutely ages, I mean, it should go in the Tate gallery, no exaggeration at all,  it’s a work of art!  Please clap enthusiastically now.  Thank you.

This is meant to look like a Union Jack, I couldn’t manage the white stripes though. If anyone says it looks like a red ant I will sulk.

The sponge cake itself was a little dry once I sliced into it, but I think that’s just my oven and my rubbish baking skills.  It did however look amazing, just look at the sponge in the next photograph!  As for the cream-cheese, it is to die for!  Really sweet with a sour twang from the cream cheese! I could have eaten bowls of just the topping!

Note the green and black speckled spices in the sponge, they give a whole new twist to a basic victoria sponge recipe and look fabulous too :O)

To summarise!  Whoever said ‘All you need is love!’ was a fool.  ‘All you need is Cake!’ if you ask me.

‘Cake is the food of love!’ not music.

And the meaning of life is not 42, it is CAKE!

Many thanks to Bart Spices for sending me the ingredients and for taking a huge risk.  I think it was the PR equivalent of jumping off a really high building in a flying squirrel suit – it could have gone very, very badly!

If you’d like to visit Bart Spices website, please click HERE, they’ll be pleased to see you I’m sure!

Half Way House Fish Pie

Half Way House Fish Pie

Darlek doesn’t like fish.  She used to eat tons of it when she was little, but has since started pulling faces and gipping if I try to feed it to her now.  This is a huge shame as we all know fish is good for us, it has Omega Whatzisname in it, and is ‘brain food’ apparently.  But nope!  Dalek is adamant that she really does not like the stuff.

The thing is, I do try to include it in the family’s diet, and I don’t like to pander / panda to separate meals so, this is my Half Way House Fish Pie recipe.  It’s a fish pie that isn’t too fishy, even Darlek manages to eat the majority of it.

So you get your casserole dish out first, mine is a lovely one one from Denby products which I adore.  Sorry to show it off, but it’s my pride and joy at the moment.

I thought the Lillies looked pretty reflected on the pottery.

Step One:  Put Fish Pie mix (easily picked up at the supermarket) in the microwave on a defrost function and cook it very slowly so it doesn’t get overdone and go crunchy.  Once the fish is cooked through and flaking slightly, put it in the dish.

Fish in dish. Dish with fish! (Apologies I’m having a Dr Zeuss moment)

I don’t cook the fish in milk as some people do, because if you use that milk with the fish juices in the mashed potato, Darlek refuses to eat it.

Step Two: Part A.  Make a white sauce.  Again I take the easy route, I don’t use a roux.  I put roughly equal amounts of butter, flour and milk all in a pan, heat it and whisk as I go along.  If it doesn’t thicken add more flour.

Step Two: Part B.  Fend off the kids who are by now usually clamouring for their dinner.  Give them a pot of raisins each and shoo them out of the kitchen.

Haphazardly make a white sauce. Taste as you go to make sure it’s not too floury. Do not burn your tongue!

Step Three: Part A  – Add the white sauce to the fish in the dish and add a dash of pepper, and parsley if you have any.

Step Three: Part B – Stop Sausage from raiding the fridge and palm him off with dried apricots this time.

White sauce on fish in dish, fish in dish in white sauce. I’m on a roll with this Doctor Zeuss thing now.

Meanwhile boil peeled and cubed potatoes and steam spinach above the pan to save on gas.  You see I’m practical as well as pretty….well actually I’m probably neither, but it rhymed and fits in with the random Dr Zeuss thing I’ve got going on.

Spinach in pan over boiling spuds, spuds in pan under boiling spinach. I HAVE to find a way to fit a Fox in Socks into this recipe somehow…..

Step Four: Carefully and evenly distribute the spinach over the fish in the dish.

Step Five: Part A – Mash the spuds with ordinary unfishy moo cow milk and butter and spread it carefully on the top of the fish in the dish and the spinach.  I say carefully because it tends to sink if you tip a load in at once.  I find the blobbing here and there approach works best for me.

Step Five: Part B – Yell at the kids who have nicked Babybels whilst I was distracted.

Make a pretty pattern on the top of the mash, personally I like swirls.

Step Six: Part A – Slice and add Mozzarella to the top of the fish in the dish coated with spinach.   The Mozarella I had was square shaped so I played at cheese crazy paving for a little while.

I should do one of those crazy paving paths in our garden, seems I have a talent for this kind of thing!

Chuck the whole lot in the oven and leave for around 25 minutes at about 180 C, just to let it toast and go golden on top.  Serve with a crunchy salad or green beans and sweetcorn if you prefer. We had a salad because I was lazy.

Step 8: Eat!!!!!!!  You’ll find that this is probably the least fishy fish pie ever.  A nice Half Way House Fish Pie for kids who don’t like fish.

Step 9: Finish with a nice cup of herbal tea in some Cath Kidston bedding……erm I mean, a Cath Kidston cup.  And ….relax….

Tea in a cup, no pup in the cup though. Which is a shame. Dr Zeuss eat your heart out!

This is a sponsored post thanks to Palmers Department Stores who kindly sent me the gorgeous Denby Casserole dish and the cute cup.  Many thanks to them and no other financial reward was given.  Both dishwashered and worked exactly as you’d expect them to.  Sorry for the bedding link – I had to include it somehow!

Cooking with Caramel Nibbles from Cadbury!

Cooking with Caramel Nibbles from Cadbury Dairy Milk.

The ingredients! (there are two invisible eggs on there, I erm...forgot to photo them)

Ages ago I was sent some Caramel Nibbles to cook with.  It was way before Christmas and somehow I never managed to get around to the actual cooking bit.  This was mainly because the main ingredients kept getting eaten, and had to be rebought on two separate occassions. Anyway, yesterday I managed to get on with it and I’d love to share the recipe with you, my lovely, chocolate starved readers.  I know you’ve run out of the Christmas chocolate now and the withdrawal symptoms are kicking in.  Here’s how to get your sugar high back.

At the end of the blog I have included the ingredients  list and the method as it was passed to me, just in case you want to do this professionally and properly, unlike moi.   I had a go!  You can’t knock me for trying!  At no point have I ever EVER said I’m a cupcake genius

So! Here we go!  First of all I enlisted my son to help with the complicated cookery mixing and sieving and weighing out bits.  As you can see he spent most of the time licking a cupcake mixture covered spoon instead.

The sous chef checking the mixture had been mixed correctly.

First things first, I creamed the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and then added the eggs, flour and milk.  I have not been able to assemble my mixer since having had the new kitchen and not being able to locate random bits of it so this was done badly by hand.

This took forever and I couldn't get the lumps out. My fault entirely.

Then I melted one packet of Caramel Nibbles in a bowl over a pan of hot water.  Don’t over fill the pan of hot water, it spills everywhere.  I know!

Maybe gentle microwaving would be easier?

The next step was to mix this brown gloopy mixture in with the yellowish eggy floury gloopy mixture.  Ideally you use a blender to mix it thoroughly together.  I could not find the bottom half of my blender and after much rooting in cupboards and getting annoyed I gave up and tried to mix it by hand via whisk. I suspect the colour should be more evenly distributed, I had sort of coffee looking blotchy stuff with lumps in.

After it had cooled a little I poured this mixture into the cupcake wrappers with the help of my little sous chef who was by this point very sticky.  I’ll tell you this for nothing, Caramel Nibbles could be used as a replacement for superglue if there was ever a superglue famine.

I think Sausage had eaten half the mixture by this point.

They were put into the oven for 18 minutes and came out looking like this!  So much for even heat in a fan oven.  Guess which were on the top shelf…..

Taaaah Daaaah!!!! *Does jazz hands*

For the icing I heated up some double cream and added a whole packet of broken up Caramel Nibbles (minus approx 12 for decoration).  Once the Nibbles had melted into the cream I removed it from the heat and bunged it all in a bowl.  Once it had cooled I removed the cling film, and added a ton of icing sugar.

The muddy coloured mixture was poured into a bowl and covered with cling film to prevent a skin forming while it cooled.

Finally I dolloped the cupcake icing onto the cupcakes and artistically balanced Caramel Nibbles on the top of them.  Then I carefully sorted through all of the buns to find the most presentable one, which I have thoughtfully photographed for your viewing pleasure.

MMMMMmmmmmm.........

The others are blurred in the background because they looked like they were the work of a 3 year old.  I could have pretended that they were actually the work of a three year old, but I have decided to tell the truth.  I iced them like that.  They dripped all over the place because again I couldn’t find a goddam whisk so my double cream wouldn’t go fluffy.  Still they tasted lovely!  Definitely sweet, in fact sweeter than sweet.  I suggest brushing your teeth thoroughly after eating, if you’re teeth aren’t glued together that is.

The over all judgement?  I’m rubbish at making sweet stuff, so these could have turned out much better.  I reckon that this recipe would be beautiful in the right hands.  Why not give it a go, instead of hoarding left over chocolate oranges from Xmas in the back of cupboards?  Or is that just me?

This is the proper recipe bit if you want the finer details!

Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel Nibbles Cupcake Recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 x 175g pkt Caramel Nibbles
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 100ml milk
  • 220g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract

Icing ingredients

  • 1 x 175g pkt Caramel Nibbles
  • 180ml double cream
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  • Edible gold glitter (optional)

1.       Preheat the oven to 160c Fan/180c/Gas Mark 4. Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, add the vanilla extract and mix well. Then add the eggs, flour, baking powder, milk and mix until thoroughly combined.

 2.       Take the first packet of Caramel Nibbles and melt to a paste in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Add the paste to the cupcake mix and mix well with an electric mixer to distribute the caramel loveliness thoroughly. Place cupcake wrappers into your cupcake pan and fill each wrapper with cupcake mixture 2/3rds full.

 3.       Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until golden on top then allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the tray before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

 4.       For the frosting take the second packet of Caramel Nibbles, take out 12 Caramel Nibbles and set aside. From the remaining Nibbles measure out 120g and chop into small rough pieces to make the frosting.

 5.       Place the double cream into a pan over a low heat. Add in the chopped Caramel Nibbles and continue to heat gently, stirring to melt the chocolate pieces. Keep the mixture moving with a spatula to encourage the pieces to melt. This will take about 4 minutes over a low heat. When all the pieces are melted down, remove from the heat and place in a bowl to cool. Cover with food wrap, pressing it down onto the surface of the Caramel mixture to stop a skin forming.

 6.       When your icing mix has cooled, completely transfer to a large bowl and add 200g of sifted icing sugar. Mix well with an electric mixer. If the mixture is slightly too runny, add a little more icing sugar to stiffen.

 7.       Now we’re ready to go! Spread the frosting on top of the cupcakes or pipe for a professional finish. Add one Caramel Nibble to the top from those you set aside earlier. Finally a sprinkling of edible gold glitter!

 Recipe created by Ruth Clemens, please credit to her blog: www.thepinkwhisk.co.uk .

I was sent two 75 g packs of Caramel Nibbles, no other financial reward was given which is a shame because I must have bought four packets of these things as a result of this blog.  They are very moreish!!!

Hula-Hoops a La-Packet, Cookies & Sausage Butties

Hula-Hoops a-la-Packet & Sausage Butties.

This is me confessing my crapness at housewifery.  Tonight my dearest Horace came home to find a quarter of a Mathersons sausage in a bowl, and a home-made cookie made by my son’s fair hands…..and that was it.

He looked at me, laughed, suggested I take a photo as proof of my culinary skills, and made himself a butty.  I felt very shamefaced, but offered him the cookie as a dessert and suggested that as a whole, this wierd concoction of a meal was sort of balanced.  I mean, cookies are made of flour, and erm….flour comes from wheat doesn’t it…..and erm….wheat is a plant?

*Kay gradually mutters quieter and quieter until stared down by shocked and disapproving blog readers*

Alright then, it was rubbish! I’m currently staring at my feet trying to look repentant.  I suspect Healthy Supplies may revoke their sponsorship at any moment and ban me from their pages in case I suggest Coca-Cola is a Health Food because it’s got Coca in it, which comes from a Cocoa bean, which is an…erm plant?

To explain! I had to meet Darlek at school, then had to wait around for another 45 minutes in the classroom so I could go to the parent’s evening and talk about Darlek really loving maths, but really not being bothered about spelling.  I have no idea where she gets that fom.  Then we had to walk home in the darkening, cold evening, while Sausage collected sticks and randomly fell over twice.  The poor love seems to have shot up in height and appears to be getting his legs tangled all the time.   Think baby giraffe.

On arriving home, I had to get Darlek dressed for a ‘Pink Party’ at her Rainbows group.  That’s not very ‘Rainbowish’ is it?!  I hope the other colours didn’t feel left out.  Anyway, after digging out random pink T’shirts and trying to blackmail her into wearing a pink knitted jumper, she eventually got herself ready while I bombed around the kitchen at a million miles an hour opening tins of Big Soup and making Matheson’s Sausage butties.  This is all whilst reassuring Sausage that it didn’t matter if he missed out on the Pink Party because Darlek would bring him back a chocolate coin.  He was very upset he wasn’t going, but the promise of chocolate cheered him up and he stopped whimpering after a bit.

So I fed them a half nutritious tea, with an apple for pudding.  In typical kitty fashion, he climbed on the table when Sausage was looking the other way and stuck his nose in his dinner, so Sausage only got half his soup, but at least he ate his butty and his apple.  After approximately 45 minutes of me doing the wall of death, Darlek headed out to her do, and Horace arrived home from work.  To a scene of absolute destruction as usual, and to a truly appalling tea.  I didn’t have time to make Horace a sandwich in advance and there’s only so far a tin of Big Soup will stretch.   Hence a slice of sausage in a bowl and a cookie!

All I can say is that it was the result of me being a damn good mum and I refuse to feel rubbish about it.  There’s only so much I can do! I got to the parent’s eve, baked cookies with Sausage, got Darlek in costume and to her party, washed up, cleaned up, ran in circles, sat watching rubbish TV with Sausage to keep him company (mindblowingly boring!), and didn’t lose my temper once – even when poked with sticks on the school run and accidentally headbutted.

To be fair, I’ve only had a sausage butty and one packet of Hula-Hoops myself so I’ve not fared much better than Horace.  What worries me is that they do say ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ so I may have to up my game tomorrow!  Perhaps I’ll make a cheese & tomato butty and impress him with my buttering bread skills.  Perhaps I’ll order a takeaway and put it on plates and pretend I made it whilst hiding the tubs at the bottom of the bin.  Perhaps I’ll microwave a potato.  I’m a culinary genius moi!

Having said all this, I also have two happy, healthy kids who get a balanced meal most days, a reasonably clean but chaotic house and we do ok.  What the hell!  It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things……and  I seriously doubt Horace will stop loving me simply because I make him a duff meal every now and then.  Well, I hope not anyway! *Kay eyes the oven nervously and wonders about how to cook roast duck or some other such posh meal*