Melt in the Middle Pudding

This time last week I was coming back from my friend’s hen party in Valencia. It was a weekend of sun, food, drink and fun. On the first day we enjoyed a three course Italian late lunch. On the second night it was a tapas and wine night where we dressed the hen up in her ‘housewife’ outfit. On the third day, we used our very little Spanish to order takeaway sandwiches for the journey home (our greatest achievement lol).

 This weekend it was turn of the stag with a weekend away in Barcelona. Now, the only details I know of this are a craft ale tour and a football stadium tour. I think we got the better deal hehe. So I’m currently waiting for Mr W to fly home. Being the nice wife that I am, I have offered to pick him and my sister’s boyfriend up from the airport. Now, I agreed before I knew the details. Flight doesn’t land until 11:45pm!!! I’m normally in bed by 9:30pm. Boy, am I regretting my kind offer. To pass the time, I’m currently baking some ‘skinny’ chocolate muffins. They have been on my Pinterest board for so long that I figured I should probably give them ago.

Enough about now. With the boys away, my sister and I took advantage and had some sister time. This involved me cooking her meals (she requested healthy), watching films and making cocktails. To be fair, she did complete a charity 5km yesterday in the rain (well done sis and Beaky!!). So yesterday, I decided to try her on a cauliflower pizza (yes, you’ve read that correctly). Now, Mr W and I have had these in the past but I found the recipe we used to heavy. It used ground almonds which gave it a denser texture but was also a bit stodgy. The recipe I followed last night was from ‘The Body Bible – Clean Eating Alice’ which didn’t use any flour or substitutes. It’s basically cooked cauliflower that’s blitzed down and mixed with egg and Parmesan. Although this made for a softer base, I thought it was a lot tastier than the previous recipe I followed. Don’t get me wrong, cauliflower pizza are never going to be the same as an actual pizza. You will never be able to trick someone into thinking it was. But it is a tasty alternative that doesn’t leave you feeling ‘heavy full’. It was definitely a hit with us.

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As the blog name suggests, we did indulge in a sweet treat. It’s all about balance and moderation. This pudding has been on the card for months, and has been booked in for this weekend since finding out when the stag do was. My sister sent me the link on Instagram. It’s a Peanut Butter Melt In the Middle Chocolate Pudding!!!

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This was my first attempt at a melt in the middle pudding (never mind a peanut butter one) and it was a lot easier to make than I thought. The recipe I found served 4 so I had to adapt it to make a serves 2. Mr W doesn’t like peanut butter and my sister’s boyfriend isn’t a big dessert lover. Seemed the perfect time to try them. After seeing this pudding be made numerous times on MasterChef, I knew the greasing of the mould and the cooking time was important. If I was to make again, I would use smooth peanut butter. All I had in was crunchy and it didn’t melt as well. Do you want to give it a go?

100g dark chocolate (I wouldn’t use a high percentage as it would make it too bitter and you won’t be able to eat it all!)
50g butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
55g caster sugar
17g plain flour
Peanut butter

Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Grease two moulds or ramekins.
Melt the butter and chocolate, slowly, in a saucepan.
Whisk the egg, egg yolk and sugar.
Add the chocolate mixture and plain flour. Mix until combined.
Half fill the moulds/ramekins with the batter.
Add 1 teaspoon of peanut butter to each mould/ramekin.
Fill with the remaining batter (leave some room at top as the pudding will rise.
Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes. The top should be firm to the touch. Try not to over bake or there will be no melting middle!

 

Pancakes!!

I have to admit, pancakes have become the highlight of my weekend. I love making these as an indulgent (yet relatively healthy) Sunday morning breakfast treat. Mr W finds it slightly amusing on how excited I can get knowing that these are going to be my breakfast.

It all started the week before Shrove Tuesday. It fell on Mr Ws fortnightly quiz night and I didn’t want to miss out on not having pancakes. But I didn’t want to have to make a full batch of batter and throw it away or buy pre-made ones (if I’m having pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, I want to be making them). I ended up doing a bit of googling on pancake recipes and came across this single serve recipe. Now, I followed this recipe to the letter (using wholemeal flour and half a mashed up banana instead of an egg as I didn’t have any in). I made them as a pancake dessert and served with fresh fruit and ice cream. Delicious!! I even gave the recipe to my sister to try and she enjoyed them as well (using plain flour and an egg). Our only issue was that they stuck slightly to the pan (not sure if that was an issue with our pans though. Still using a cheap favourite one from our uni days. Non-stick might not be so great now :S).

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Now, after the success of these ones and the easiness of the recipe, I decided to try them for breakfast. I also thought I’d be brave and adapt the recipe slightly. With the dry ingredients I added a dash of cinnamon. I also stirred some fresh blueberries into the complete batter. Now, these did not cook as well. They turned in to mush. Not sure if it was the addition of the blueberries or that I needed to cook them for longer, but they didn’t look like pancakes. Still tasted great though. My next variation was the addition of chia seeds to the dry mix. Chia seeds have all those additional health benefits and you don’t really notice them in the cooked pancake. These didn’t cause any issues when I cooked the pancakes. Bonus.20160327_093515.jpgThis morning I decided to combine both of these variations together to create some tasty blueberry pancakes. Instead of combining the blueberries into the batter, I added them to the top of the pancake as the first side was cooking. Success!! I keep the pancakes warm in the oven whilst I cook the rest. I normally get around four pancakes out of this batter. For me, I like to substitute the egg with half a mashed banana as it’s secretly adding some fruit into the pancake. I then slice the other half and use as a topping. I also find that the wholemeal flour adds a subtle nutty taste to the pancake. I have found that the pancakes are cooked to perfection when cooked for two minutes on each side. I also spray the pan with spray oil before cooking each pancake (this has resolved the sticking issue). For toppings I use sliced banana, berries (fresh or frozen defrosted), mixed seeds, flaked almonds and a drizzle of honey. Healthy indulgence! Below is the recipe I now follow.

  • ¼ cup plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp flavourless oil (I used rapeseed)
  • ¼ cup milk (almond milk is tasty)
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Place dry ingredients into a jug and mix.
  2. In a separate bowl (I just use a mug), whisk together the mashed banana, milk and oil until combined.
  3. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until well combined.
  4. Lightly grease a non-stick fry pan with spray oil and heat to a medium temperature.
  5. Making this mixture in a jug will make it easier to portion out the batter – make this to your preferred size. I made 4 pancakes.
  6. Cook until bubbles form on surface. If you want to include any berries, scatter them on top of the pancake at this stage. Flip and cook the other side until lightly browned. I have found it takes 2 minutes on each side.
  7. Keep warm in an oven whilst you cook the rest.
  8. Serve with your choice of toppings.

 

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Baked Doughnuts (attempt 2)

As promised in my last post, I gave the baked doughnuts another go last weekend. This time I used a different recipe that I had found online and thought it would be better to master a basic ring doughnut before I attempted the filled doughnut again. I’d also seen online, people mentioning that they had used their air fryer to bake their doughnuts. An excuse for me to use it again (I also attempted kale crisps in it last weekend. Did not go well for me. The kale blew up into the element and started to burn. Thinking about it, it might have been because I used shredded kale (leftovers from last weekends smoothies) rather than kale pieces. Might consider trying again at a later date). Back to the doughnuts. I used this recipe that I’d found online for making the doughnuts and this recipe for guidance on baking in an air fryer. Due to the unsuccessfulness of my last attempt at these, I decided I would do half a batch which was easy as it didn’t have any egg in it (if I can’t easily halve the amount of egg in a recipe, I’ll always make the full batch). So, for this attempt I decided to use my stand mixer to make the kneading easier (I always struggle with this when doing it by hand. Always takes me three times as long). As we are going through our cold spell at the moment in the UK, I didn’t feel it was warm enough to prove the dough out on the side so used the oven technique instead (Turn oven on full. When heated, turn off and put dough in to prove).  Instead of cutting the doughnuts and placing them on some greaseproof paper, I placed them in my doughnut moulds. As I managed to get 7 doughnuts out of the dough and I only have four ring moulds, I used the stated method for the remaining three. I set my air fryer to 160C (only needs 3 minutes to warm up!) and cooked the doughnuts in batches for 5 -7 minutes until golden brown. Whilst still warm, I brushed with the melted butter and rolled in the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Voilà, cinnamon ring doughnuts.

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Verdict: After I proved the doughnuts, I noticed they had a crust on the outside. This was due to putting them in the oven. Next time, I need to leave them out in a warm place. The doughnuts hadn’t puffed up as much as the doughnuts shown on the recipes website. However, they did look like those on the ‘baking in an air fryer’ website which I guess is a good thing. The doughnuts had a close, bread like texture which was a bit disappointing (not as bad as attempt one mind). Personally, I liked the cinnamon flavour however Mr W wasn’t as keen (hence, leftover doughnuts are currently in the freezer waiting for me to eat them. Normally I can rely on Mr W to finish my bakes). His opinion being that doughnuts should either be iced (think The Simpsons) or filled with something sweet. So, I have found a third recipe on the Lakeland website which is for use with the mould kit I bought. It gives suggestions for ring and filled doughnuts. This will be used for attempt three with Mr W providing suggestions for fillings and toppings.

 

Smoothies. For those interested in smoothie recipes. This weekend I have been having strawberry, banana and spinach smoothies. I have been blending a handful of frozen strawberries, half a frozen banana, and two handfuls of spinach with some low fat natural yoghurt and water. Personally, I prefer using spinach to kale as it’s not as bitty when blended. I might try last weekends recipe with spinach instead of kale.

 

Mexican night. A few months ago, my sister and I went to a Mexican Street Food cookery class (I mentioned it in one of my previous posts). This weekend we finally got round to cooking what we learnt for our other halves. My sister took on the corn salsa, guacamole, radish pickle and tomato salsa. I took on the chipotle chicken, black bean tostadas (with feta and coriander garnish) and green rice. We did learn how to make our own tortillas but I decided to buy these in instead. It went down a storm with the favourite dishes being the chipotle chicken and black bean tostadas. Below is a picture of our efforts. Used it as an excuse to make up some sangria (I know it’s not Mexican but goes better with a meal than a shot of tequila). Now we just need to decide on our next cuisine type.

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Healthy Start

I hope the first week of 2016 has been good for you all (especially the dreaded first full week back at work). I know I’ve been feeling it a little this week and coming home from work a little tired but it’s a good excuse to snuggle up on the sofa wrapped up warm.

Rather than set resolutions this year (I know I can never keep them) I have decided to set myself (and Mr W in some ways) challenges/goals for the year. The main focus for this year is to be healthy through healthy eating and exercise. I’m wanting to make sure that we both get plenty of fruit and veg in our diets so that we are getting all the right nutrients. So, an obvious thing to start doing was to introduce a meat free day. I wanted to do ‘Meat Free Mondays’ but then realised that my job may require me to eat meat on Mondays so Mr W suggested a meat free day a week instead. So this Monday started off with a home-made vegetable soup for lunch that I found in my go to Good Food cookbook recipe here. I did cheat and use dried herbs and it did require a bit of seasoning (and good old Worcester sauce) to lift the flavour. The leftovers went in the freezer ready for this Monday. Tea had some Italian inspiration using gnocchi and butternut squash with a rosemary butter sauce.  If anybody has any suggestions for meat free recipes, please leave a comment as inspiration is always needed.

I came to the realisation that during the week I can easily reach and surpass my 5 a day recommendation for fruit and veg (more veg than fruit mind) as it is easy to snack on this at work. But when it comes to the weekend I find that I can struggle to get past 3 servings (and drink my usual 2 litres of water). So, I have decided to make myself smoothies for my weekend breakfast. Last weekend I was on kiwi and spinach smoothies. For those who want to try it, chop up two kiwis and add to a blender with a couple of handfuls of spinach, couple of spoons of natural yogurt and 100ml water, then just blitz together. This weekend I’m on banana, pineapple and kale. So it was half a frozen banana (slightly defrosted), 12 chunks of pineapple, a couple of handfuls of kale and 100ml of water blitzed together. If you’ve never had a smoothie before, these green smoothies do take a while to get your head round (Mr W always has comments on the greenness of it) but I feel like I am adding those extra nutrients into my diet. People can say that smoothies are high in sugar but by making them yourself you can control what goes in. I try to keep the fruit down to the equivalent of 1-1 and half servings then top it up with the greens (low in sugar and fat but have the iron or folic acid).

Exercise….Probably one of the main focuses of resolutions. For a few months now I have been doing some form of exercise for 5-6 times a week. These sessions haven’t been intense, some cardio or strength training to get my heart going in the morning. I think that this could be why I haven’t been ill so far this winter. Doing some exercise each day (along with a healthy diet) keeps the immune system at its best. However, too much exercise can put too much stress on the body and weaken the immune system. So remember, everything in moderation (exercise and diet). So for this year I just want to keep this routine going. It can take up to three weeks for your body to get used to a routine so I’m hoping that now I’m beyond that stage, I can keep it up.

In my last post I mentioned about some healthy baking. This weekend I am going to give the baked doughnuts another go (using my doughnut kit and possibly AirFryer, this is my new toy for the year). I will give an update on this in my next post. Again, any suggestions for uses of the AirFryer (I got a Phillips one after a colleague at work recommended it) please leave a comment. I will be attempting kale crisps in it later today so fingers crossed.