Raspberry Jam and Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes

Raspberry Jam and Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes

As exams draw to a final close, sharing cakes seems like the perfect way to celebrate. I decided to do a bit of experimenting with a limited selection of ingredients and these delightful cupcakes is what I came up with.

Cupcakes (makes 8 large cupcakes):
110g self raising flour
110g unsalted butter
110g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla flavouring
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
50g melted milk or white chocolate
1/2 jar of raspberry jam

Cream cheese frosting:
50g unsalted butter
150g soft cheese
50g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla flavouring

Preheat oven at 180C
1. Begin by making the cupcakes. Cream the butter and sugar together until it becomes lighter in colour.
2. Once fully combined, slowly add the eggs and beat together. Add milk to make the mixture of dropping consistency. Finally add the vanilla flavouring.
3. Fill the cupcake cases until they are half full and bake for around 15 minutes until golden brown.
4. Allow to cool for a while on a wire wrack. Then, using a knife cut a 10p size circle into the cupcake and spoon out the centre with a spoon. Allow for quite a big hole but so it doesn’t reach the cupcake case on the bottom.
5. Spoon in the jam until the hole is 3/4 full. Finally top with melted chocolate until the hole is levelled off. I used milk chocolate but think white chocolate would work really well but I didn;t have any in my cupboards. Leave to set.
6. Make the frosting next. Beat the butter in a bowl until it becomes soft. Then beat in the cream cheese. Sift and fold in the icing sugar until combined and then beat to get rid of any lumps.
7. Finally add the vanilla flavouring and allow the icing to set a little in the fridge until the cupcakes are completely cool.
8. Ice your cupcakes! I sprinkled freeze dried raspberries on top for added raspberry flavour.


Chilli and Garlic Prawns with Noodles

Chilli and Garlic Prawns with Noodles

Prawns are perfect on a warm, summery evening. This dish is fresh and crisp yet the noodles fill you up – just what you want from a supper.

Ingredients (serves 2):
1 bunch of spring onions
200g of fresh bean sprouts
250g of cooked prawns (or raw if you prefer)
3 cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp of groundnut oil
100g egg noodles


1. Begin my cooking the noodles (as instructed on the packaging). Once drained, run cold water over them and then set aside.

2. Heat 1 tbsp of groundnut oil and add the bean sprouts and the majority of spring onions. Cook until softened, at which point add in the noodles. Add a little extra oil if they need loosening.

3. Once the noodles are heated through remove them from the pan (or wok if you have one). Pop them onto a serving dish and wipe down the pan.

4. Return the pan to the heat and heat 1 tbsp of groundnut oil. Cook of the crushed garlic and chopped chilli for about a minute, take the pan off the heat and turn down the temperature if it browns too quickly.

5. Add the prawns and mix together. Add the light brown sugar and soy sauce. Allow the mixture to simmer lightly to heat the prawns through.

6. Put the prawn mixture on top of the noodles and sprinkle the remaining raw spring onions on top.

I have the leftover for my lunch tomorrow. I can’t wait to enjoy it in the sun.

Rib Nights Round 4

Rib Nights Round 4

The Rib Nights team have really perfected this quirky and unique banquet style evening. I wrote a review for Round 2 which you can read here to get the jist of the evening. Round 4, in my opinion, bought the best selection of Ribs that Rib Nights has seen so far…

Andy Annat BBQ Crackerjack vs Racks of Ruin BBQ Pit Crew

The winners for Round 4: Andy Annat BBQ Crackerjack

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If you like the following things then Rib Nights is the ideal Sunday gorging fest for you…
1. RIBS (accompanied with delicious sides – chips, coleslaw, bread)
2. Welcome shots to whet your appetite
3. Banquet style dining to get to know fellow rib lovers
4. Cocktails
6. Music
7. A chance to win an incredible piece of art whilst contributing to a great cause
8. A friendly, happy and passionate selection of teams, from cooking the ribs to delivering them to your table

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Is there anything missing? Pudding? No worries, a surprise is served up at the end… just in case you’ve got space. It was brownies for Round 4… perfect brownies.

So if you’re up for an evening of ribs and so much more then you know what to do….


Dill and Chilli Sea Bass with Asparagus and Sautéed Potatoes

Dill and Chilli Sea Bass with Asparagus and Sautéed Potatoes

On a recent trip to the Underground Cookery School in London I learnt to make this wonderful dish. Take the potatoes away and you have yourself a hearty starter, with the potatoes, a summery main. This was such a great dish, it must be shared!

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 whole, gutted sea bass (or 4 sea bass fillets)
1 bunch of asparagus
500g of new potatoes
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Lime juice

1. Begin by boiling the new potatoes until they have softened (around 10 mins) but not so much that they fall apart.
2. Meanwhile trim the asparagus stalks (about an inch off) so that the woody bit is removed. Using a potato peeler peel the skin off the ends of the stalks so it becomes light in colour (as pictured).
3. If you have bought whole sea bass then fillet. If they are ready filleted then score the skin lightly.
4. Prepare the dressing by roughly chopping a handful of dill (removing stalks). Add to olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, thinly chopped chilli and a teaspoon of mustard. Add in small quantities and keep tasting!
5. Heat a pan of oil and begin frying off the potatoes until they are crispy. When they are nearly done, boil the asparagus for 5 minutes.
6. Cook the sea bass by heating olive oil in a non-stick pan. Pop them in the pan, skin side down. Watch the fish and you will see white gradually rising as it cooks. Once the white has nearly risen to the opposite side of the skin, flip then over for a final minute.
7. Hopefully it’s all come together at the same time. Serve as pictured and drizzle with the prepared dressing!!

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. A truly wonderful summer dish which is sure to wow everyone.

Oriental Salmon & Broccoli Bake with Spinach Noodles

Oriental Salmon & Broccoli Bake with Spinach Noodles

Want a quick and easy meal packed full of flavour, with a bit of a kick? Well, fear not, I have it right here. This salmon and broccoli bake is so easy you will be surprised it tastes so good. Only taking 20 minutes to make, there’s no need to toil over the oven but pop it in, relax, eat. It might look like a lot of ingredients but it’s the salmon and noodle dressing so it takes no time at all to throw it all together.

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 salmon fillets (skin on)
1/2 a head of broccoli (chopped and washed)
1/2 a lemon of juice, 1/2 a lemon cut into wedges
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp chopped red chillis (or chilli sauce)
1 tbsp groundnut oil (and a bit extra for the salmon)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce
1 garlic clove (crushed)
125g spinach noodles


Start by putting together the salmon and broccoli bake. Place the salmon in a roasting tray, a little distance a part. Surround the salmon in the freshly washed broccoli. Then squeeze the juice of half a lemon over into the tray. With the remaining half of the lemon, cut it into wedges and dot them amongst the salmon and broccoli. Drizzle the bake with groundnut oil (or olive oil or sesame oil if you don’t have it) and pop it in the oven for 10 minutes at 180C.

Whilst that’s cooking, put together the sauce for the salmon. 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tsp of sesame seeds and 1 tbsp chopped chilli (or the chilli sauce) and combined. Drizzle it over the salmon after it’s cooked for the ten minutes and return to the oven to cook for a further 4 minutes.

Next up, the noodles. Get your multi-tasking skills out and do this whilst the salmon and broccoli bake is cooking away. Boil the spinach noodles as instructed on the packaging (usually around 3 mins). Whilst they’re cooking, throw together the dressing. 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame seeds, 1 tbsp chilli (or sauce), 1 crushed clove of garlic, a splash of fish sauce, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar and 1 tbsp groundnut oil (again, swap the oil if necessary). Mix it all up ready for when the noodles are finished. Once the noodles are boiled and ready to go, drain and put them back in the pan, add the dressing and put back on the heat. Keep stirring it for a few minutes to heat through.

Of course, everything is ready at the same time as you have timed it to perfection so pop it on a plate. Enjoy.

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A Sprinkling of Love

A Sprinkling of Love

These brownies didn’t need much dressing up. Just a sprinkling of pink glitter and a few hearts and voila, love in a tin. Salted caramel gooey brownies… heat them up in the microwave (or eat them freshly baked) for an extra feeling of gooey warmth.

This was my first time making salted caramel. I’ve been desperate to make it after having some delicious brownies from a little bakery in Clifton (Bristol) and macaroons from Selfridges. Valentines Day seemed like the perfect occasion to brave it and push the boat out.

The recipe I used was easy to follow. It includes videos and pictures and, if followed to a tee, promises brilliant, mouth-watering results. I can’t claim the recipe to be mine, so here it is:


Let me know what you think. I know I’ll be making them again!

Dijon Mustard Topped Salmon with Long Stem Broccoli and Brown Rice

Dijon Mustard Topped Salmon with Long Stem Broccoli and Brown Rice

A delicious meal with lots of flavour, light yet wholesome. I love mustard and I was worried it might overpower the salmon but my fears did not become a reality.

Recipe: (serves 2)
1. 1 boneless salmon fillets, skin on
2. 2 tbsp dijon mustard
3. 1 white onion, finely sliced
4. 1 clove of garlic, crushed
5. 6 pieces of long stem broccoli, boiled
6. 120g cooked brown rice
7. A few sprays of FryLight

Preheat the oven at 180’c.
Put the rice on first as brown rice can take a while to cook. Then, begin my topping the salmon with 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard per salmon fillet. If you have small fillets, may be use a little less mustard, just ensure that there is a thin layer on the top. Spray the frying pan with a little FryLight and then, skin side down put the salmon fillets in the pan. Top the salmon with some of the onion and garlic, just enough so it is scattered on top. Allow the salmon to cook in the frying pan for about 7 minutes, add a tiny drizzle of oil if you think the skin is catching. Transfer the salmon into the oven for another 10-15 minutes, depending on how rare you like it.

The broccoli should take around 6 minutes to cook so factor this in too! Whilst the broccoli and rice is cooking, fry off the remaining garlic and onion in FryLight and put to one side until the rice is finished. As soon as it is finished, drain the rice and add to the frying pan to bring the all these bits and bobs together. If you use the same pan that was used for the salmon there should be enough FryLight/oil to prevent the rice from sticking but keep stirring it or add some more FryLight if you feel it’s catching.

I loved this meal, just the right amount of comfort in the rice. I love long stem broccoli because the stems are so much sweeter than normal broccoli and it works really well with the strong dijon mustard flavour!

A New Favourite Pancake Topping

A New Favourite Pancake Topping

After seeing and hearing lots of hype about healthy nut butters I decided to try one for myself. I played it safe and went for the Meridian peanut butter. I love it! It’s less salty than the standard (less healthy, in fact very unhealthy) peanut butter but it’s still delicious and makes a good peanut butter and jam combo!

So, a new favourite topping for my morning wholemeal, oaty pancakes is Meridian peanut butter and a summer fruit coulis (to mimic jam)! The morning I took the picture at the top of this post on the morning I ran out of coulis and so just used straight summer fruits which worked equally as well but I do like a warm coulis in the morning.

See my recipes for wholemeal, oaty pancakes for the pancakes themselves and the coulis!!

Falafel with Thai Red Curry Paste

Falafel with Thai Red Curry Paste

I went to a quiz a few weeks ago and one of the questions was: what is the main ingredient in falafel? We STUPIDLY opted for lentils because we eliminated chickpeas on the basis that hummus is made from chickpeas, I’m not sure where the logic was in that but we were furious with ourselves when they revealed the answer was in fact chickpeas. So, ever since, I have wanted to teach those pieces of falafel and lesson and EAT them. I’ve never had them before making them this evening and they lived up to expectations. We had some leftover Thai red curry paste in the fridge and I thought it would add a nice twist! So, without further ado:

Recipe: (serves 2/makes 10 ping pong sized balls)

1 tin of cooked, drained chickpeas (240g)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 tsp of Thai red curry paste
1 tsp garam massala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp of plain flour
Pinch of salt

2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp olive oil
Lemon juice to taste
Pinch of salt
1 clove of garlic, crushed

Put all of the ingredients for the falafel into a food processor and whizz up until smooth, a few chunks are ok. Using your hands, roll into small, ping pong sized balls. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and brown off the falafel. Once browned, line a baking tray with tin foil and spray with FryLight (4-5 sprays). Add the falafel to the baking tray and bake for around 15-20 minutes at 180 degrees. Serve with salad and pita bread!

For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients above. I used roughly the juice from half a lemon, may be a little more. The tahini is quite strong so just keep tasting until the balance between lemon and tahini is right. Then, line the pitas with the dressing, add the salad and cram in the falafel and there you have it.

A delicious light meal. Polly 1, Falafel 1. We’re even now falafel.

Christmas Dinner: Budget Supermarket vs. Farmers’ Market

Christmas Dinner: Budget Supermarket vs. Farmers' Market
This is my cousin having been defeated by Christmas Dinner.

This year I had two Christmas dinners, the first with my friends at Uni and the second at home with ALL the family. So, I’m just going to provide my thoughts on each… of course taste is the main factor but also price and ease of cooking is considered.

Aldi (served 5):
Four bird roast (turkey, chicken, duck and goose, 1.58kg)
Cauliflower cheese
Pigs in blankets
Yorkshire puddings
Sage and onion stuffing (readymade)
Chicken gravy (readymade)
Total cost: £25
Total cooking time: 3 hours

Farmers’ Market (served 17):
Turkey (54.5kg)
Fennel carrots
Red cabbage with apple
Brussel sprouts
Petit pois
Pigs in blankets (made from scratch)
Chilli stuffing (made from scratch)
Sage & onion stuffing
Turkey gravy (made from scratch)
Total cost: £125
Total cooking time: 6 hours

With most things, the more expensive option is better than the cheaper alternative. This was no exception.

Round one: meat
The four bird roast had nothing on the turkey. It was tasty but each of the four birds tasted the same. There was a severe lacking of crispy skin and moisture for the Aldi meal although the glaze provided did add a nice sweetness to the meat. Also, there was stuffing running through it and you can never have enough stuffing.

Round two: veg
I hate to be predictable but again, the farmers’ market Christmas dinner won hands down. All the veg for the Aldi meal was bought and cooked from frozen so it seemed a bit mushy (I like a bit of a crunch). I suppose it was a bit of an unfair test as well because my Mum does the best roast potatoes going!

Round three: gravy
Well, I’m not a fan of chicken gravy, especially the readymade stuff. It’s got to be made from the juices of the meat unless it’s bisto! The readymade stuff was a bit watery, but it was needed due to the lack of moisture from the other elements of the meal.

Although the farmers’ market meal was the clear winner, I would happily have the Aldi one again. It was cheaper and much less hassle… simply a job of whacking everything in the oven. For the farmers’ market meal, the whole family was roped in. Elements of the dinner were divided up to cook at various members of the families house and then there was a race to the final destination so we could eat it all together. The turkey was born and bred in the same village as my house, transported to the next village, cooked and then returned to my house.

So should I be needing a quick fix Christmas dinner anytime soon, Aldi will be my saviour. But should I have the time, money and resources (family and oven space) then Farmers’ Market produce every time!

Here’s a few pics of each meal:


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Farmers’ Market:

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