Jammy Donuts

19 Apr

The recipe for ‘Jammy Donuts’ Muffins in Baking Magic (by Kate Shirazi) took my fancy recently. I suppose they’re kind of like baked donuts? No doubt healthier than their cooked-in-oil counterparts, but every bit as delicious.



300g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar (and extra for the tops)
250ml buttermilk (I used milk mixed with a little natural yogurt and it was fine)
1 beaten egg
50g melted butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Combine the flour, baking powder and sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, butter and vanilla, then pour into the dry ingredients. Mix together gently.

Spoon a small amount into each muffin case. Make a small indentation and add a teaspoon of jam, then cover with more mixture.

Bake for around 20 minutes.

The recipe suggests sprinkling caster sugar over the muffins when they are still warm, but I found that the sugar didn’t really stick. By using a little water brushed over the tops, I got a much better donut-like effect.

‘Baking Magic’ is currently £9.59 with free delivery on Amazon – right here.


The Cake & Bake Show, Manchester

18 Apr

On the 5th April we visited the Cake and Bake Show at Manchester Central. I’d previously snapped up tickets for only £7, which I think was a bargain considering all of the free samples we rounded up!


We took the tram into Manchester, stopping to assist a man, lost with a delicious-looking tray of bread covered in grapes. I suggested he come with us seeing as we were all heading to the same place. He chatted to us about baking at home (and the lack of signage in Manchester..), and we later realised it was Brendan Lynch of The Great British Bake-Off fame. He was so down-to-earth and my son is now his biggest fan! He kindly stopped for a photo with my very enthusiastic son.


The arena was full of stalls boasting squidgy brownies, cupcakes, occasion cakes, cake decorating equipment (hundreds of different types of sprinkles and cake cases) marshmallows, pies, breads, cookbooks and baking paraphernalia.




Of course, we found the ideal photo opportunity in a giant icing sugar box…

Brendan Lynch and Catherine Dresser in action:

A giant gingerbread house:

It was a fantastic day out, especially after the so-busy-you-can’t-push-the-pushchair-even-one-inch-ness had passed. I may even have bought a new cookbook (psssst it’s ‘Glamour Cakes’ by Eric Lanlard..), so I’m looking forward to trying out some new recipes and techniques!

Spinningfields Duck Race, Manchester

18 Apr

On Good Friday, we went into Manchester for the annual duck race. We try to go to local family events as often as possible, and we were determined to make it to the duck race after missing it last year.

Our day started with hot chocolates and sweet treats, before we walked across to Spinningfields for the race.


There was a small area with a couple of fairground games (hook a duck, obviously..), stalls, a bouncy castle and a giant inflatable duck. Our 4 little ducks joined thousands of other little ducks in the race down the canal! We were clearly on the wrong side of the canal as there appeared to be a BBQ on the go on the other side.




Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but we all had fun watching the ducks make their (rather slow) way to the finish line.

Pear Cake from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook

26 Feb

Today, I cooked the ‘Pear Cake’ from ‘The Meat Free Monday Cookbook’. It was moist and tasty, even though I used fewer pears than it suggested.


Through halted trips to the meat market (both children had chicken-pox and when I eventually went, the market was closed!) and a general effort to save money, we actually managed 6/7 meat-free days last week ( with sausages and mash for the other 1). This is the first recipe I’ve tried from the Meat Free book, although all of the others look delicious too.


Over the last week, I have cooked;
Tomato soup and grilled cheese hearts from Motherhood on the Rocks
White bean and kale stew from Whole Living
Cheese quesadillas (made by my husband)
Moroccan shepherd’s pie from Jessica Cox
Vegetable lasagne – I blogged about this HERE
Red lentil and sweet potato stew also from Whole Living

Perfect Poached Eggs on Toast

26 Feb


My tips for the perfect poached egg are:
1. Get the water in the pan boiling.
2. Put the egg into the water IN THE SHELL for 30 seconds, rolling it around gently, then take it out.
3. Get the water boiling again and break the egg in – try not to break the yolk (the best bit!).
4. Simmer for 2 minutes (which should give you enough time to sort the toast out!)
5. Use plenty of salt and pepper.

Vegetable Lasagne

19 Feb

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 diced onion
5 garlic cloves
handful of chopped mushrooms
tin of chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper
half cup stock
sprinkling of herbs – basil and oregano
1 tub ricotta cheese
cheddar or similar cheese – about 2 thumbs worth
splash of milk
lasagne sheets (fresh or dry works)

Make your tomato and vegetable sauce (the bit that would traditionally be the meat sauce), by frying the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add the mushrooms and fry until softened.
Add the tin of tomatoes, salt and pepper, stock and herbs. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.

While your sauce is simmering away, you can make the ricotta sauce. I like this sauce as it’s quicker than making a white sauce. Tip the ricotta into a bowl and grate the cheddar into it before giving it a stir. Add milk until it has a white sauce consistency. It’s as easy as that!

Layer up your lasagne using the sauces and lasagne sheets. I always start with the tomato sauce, then pasta.. and then I forget which order everything else goes in! For this one I layered tomato sauce, lasagne sheet, ricotta sauce, tomato sauce, lasagne sheet, ricotta sauce. You can keep on layering if you still have enough sauce left.
Then grate some parmesan on top.

It will need to go in the oven at 190°c for about 45 minutes. you can grill it slightly to get a crispier top.

I served mine with some spinach and ermm.. some other leaves.

Quick and Healthy(ish) Pizza

24 Jan

Sometimes I want pizza, but I don’t have any frozen ones, and I just can’t be bothered to make dough. Here is the solution, it’s healthier and it only takes about 12 minutes (2 minutes assembling and 10 in the oven!). The result is a thin, crispy based pizza.

Tortilla/wrap – I had some lovely Mediterranean ones..
Pizza sauce (I’ll add a recipe for this soon, it’s always good to have some on standby in the fridge/freezer) – you could use some passata
Any extra toppings (use what you have/like)

Add a dollop of pizza sauce to your tortilla/wrap. Spread it around.
Grate cheese on top.
Add any toppings.
Cook in the oven for 10 minutes on 190°c.

Giraffe @ Spinningfields, Manchester

23 Jan


We’d eaten at Giraffe a couple of times in the past, but this was the first time we visited for brunch.

One of the things I really like about Giraffe is how welcoming they are to children. A children’s meal costs £4.95 which includes the main meal and a drink. They also provide a colouring sheet and pencils, and a little plastic giraffe! There wasn’t a children’s option on the brunch menu, but the staff offered to make one for us if we wanted (our children then decided that they just wanted something from the lunch menu, but a kind offer nonetheless).

A massive bonus is that the brunch is served until 4pm! Not quite an all-day-breakfast, but it means you can wake up late (no chance with my two ‘angels’) and still treat yourself to breakfast! The options for brunch start at £5.95 for a Deluxe Toastie and go up to £8.50 for a Full Brunch. It’s not cheap compared to other breakfast-providers in the city, but they do offer something a little different to the regular Full English.

I chose the Huevos Rancheros Mexican Breakfast – as pictured (they describe it as “free range fried or scrambled eggs, chorizo sausage, black beans, melting cheese, adobe sauce, avocado & tomato salsa on warm soft corn tortilla”). I had been craving a ‘proper’ breakfast all morning but saw this on the menu and decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did as it was delicious (I may have stolen some of the sausage from my husband’s plate though – they were good too!).


Inspired by Shakshouka

23 Jan


Inspired by a post about shakshouka I saw last week, I decided to use what I had to make my own version.

2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
About 300g mince
200g passata
Tin of butter beans
Quarter tsp dried chilli flakes
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of cayenne chilli pepper
Beef stock cube
Salt and pepper
2 eggs

In an ovenproof dish, fry the onions and the garlic until soft.
Add the mince and brown it.
Add all of the other ingredients minus the eggs.
Add a mug of water.
Stir and simmer for around 20 minutes until quite thick. Adjust the spices and seasoning to your own taste.
Break the eggs on top. Put into the oven on 190°c and cook for about 10 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are cooked.
Serve with rice or couscous.




Spicy Chickpea Snack

22 Jan


A tin of chickpeas/400g of dried chickpea soaked overnight and boiled until soft (I cook mine on high in the slow cooker for 2 hours)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Your favourite spices
Salt and pepper

Rinse your chickpeas and dry them with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.
Add to a bowl with the olive oil and your choice of spices (cumin is good with chickpeas). You want around 1-2tsp but it depends how spicy you like your food!
Stir well.
Pour out evenly onto an oven tray.
Cook at 230°c for around 30 minutes.