Food: Vogue’s blueberry crumble muffins

Normally I have to wait a good few weeks before I get to bake for the office again, but today was a special group bake sale as we were raising money for Jean for Genes, so eight of us put our skills to the test and came up with quite the selection!

My contribution were Blueberry Crumble Muffins, something certainly different to what I have baked before and they went down a treat.

I spotted the recipe on a Vogue blog a while back Pocketed it and found it this week when I was looking for inspiration. What better way to celebrate London Fashion Week than with Blueberry for Burberry muffins?!

I have to admit I did not think the recipe through at all, and because it doesn’t actually state how many portions it makes I just assumed the 540g of plain flour was normal.

As I started to make the wet part of the recipe and measured out the flour I realised this was going to create quite a lot of mixture.

I folded the dry and wet together and added the blueberries and apples as described but because the only muffin cases I could find were pretty small (like the size of buns/cupcakes rather than large muffins) I estimated this was going to make about 30 individual muffins.

Blueberry crumble muffins process

For the first batch I was more than generous when filling the cases which meant that the finished muffins did have quite a large top on them. The second batch were a little neater and in total I ended up making  around 38!

The topping probably elevated the muffins from just normal blueberry as the crumble ended up sweet and crunchy. I think I expected the crumble to stay the way I added it but of course at the muffins baked they expanded and the crumble went with it but still looked good and the added touch of a blueberry for decoration gave it that extra fruity taste.

I highly recommend this recipe if you are wanting something to make for a large number of people, but for a home bake you might want to consider altering the amount of ingredients you need!

Blueberry Crumble Muffins

Food: One pot courgette mushroom pasta

Oh my I think I just died and went to heaven.

I spotted this dish on Damn Delicious whilst browsing for yet more courgette recipes. It appealed to me even more because of those magic words: one pot.

No need for cooking your veg and pasta in separate pans and then combining at the end, nope, this one pot pasta dish calls for you to put everything in one pan at the same time and cook.

I couldn’t think of anything more simple than cutting up courgettes into quarter pieces, slicing some mushrooms, chopping up garlic sprinkling some thyme and pouring boiling water over everything including the spaghetti.

one pot pastaThe recipe says to bring to boil and then simmer until the water is soaked up, I added slightly too much so had to drain some of those good juices away.

When my pasta was nice and thick (how I tell it’s cooked) I then added the quarter cup of cream, I plumped for single cream and added the parmesan. I did buy some natural Greek yoghurt but I was a bit worried the taste wouldn’t be as nice but if you try it let me know!

Final step season and serve! Couldn’t be more easy and only took 20 minutes from prep until serve, a really quick and super tasty meal for even the most terrible of chefs! And there’s loads more of Damn Delicious’ One Pot dishes here.

Next on the courgette list is these ‘pizza boats’.

one pot pasta dish

 

Food: Courgette parmesan crisps

What do you do with that last courgette in your pack and are bored of cutting them up into chunks or need a new pre-lunch snack?

Make crisps.

Those of you who are trying to lead a healthier lifestyle will probably be missing those luscious crunchy addictive treats that are the downfall of even the strongest willed dieter. But fear no more you can still have a crunchy treat without feeling so guilty.

Damn Delicious is my new favourite food blog, full of really simple recipes that you can adjust to your liking and inspire even more ideas.

I spotted the ‘Zucchini Parmesan Crisps‘ when I was cooking my aubergine pizzas and thought that they would be a perfect snack to have when I reach the dreaded elevenses everyday.

I’ve been making the most out of my Nutribullet, which for those of you that haven’t got one yet I implore you to invest it’s such a versatile gadget, and have been having smoothies everyday with spinach, strawberries, bananas, chia seeds, ground flax seeds and whatever else is in my fridge. But I needed a change.

Using a very chunky courgette I sliced them into discs about a quarter of a centimetre thick, and then grabbing a bowl cracked an egg in and another bowl with my coating mix.

courgette step one_Fotor

For the coating, the original recipe calls for Panko crumbs. I definitely read it wrong and decided I needed to get polenta. Well lucky for me polenta still works as a crumb and after a quick Google search I returned to the recipe to adapt it to my new ingredient!

I grated parmesan and mixed that with a bit of plain flour and the polenta and added some seasoning, you could probably add some Italian herbs to tart them up if you so wish.

courgette step two

Now I’m pretty sure I did the coating the wrong way round, in the recipe it is demonstrated you dip the courgette into flower then egg then the parmesan coating and this will be why the coating kept falling off, but no need to worry I’m the only one eating it!

I gave them about 15-20 minutes in the oven with a little flip half way through just to get the crunch on either side and you could definitely leave them in longer to get the cheese golden. The recipe does say to fry them but I went for the healthier baking option without using any oil because of the natural watery nature of the courgette, but if you’re feeling naughty get out that oil and fry away.

I’m pretty impressed with how well these tasted and had them for my snack today, highly recommended. Next up on my return from Paris (I’m going to see Beyonce and Jay Z), I shall probably try this One Pot Courgette Mushroom Pasta!

courgette crisps

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Panko or polenta!
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 courgettes (or however many you want to make), thinly sliced to 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Instructions

  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • In a large bowl, combine Panko and Parmesan; set aside.
  • Working in batches, dredge courgett rounds in flour, dip into eggs, then dredge in Panko mixture, pressing to coat.
  • Add courgett rounds to the skillet, 5 or 6 at a time, and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Serve immediately.

Nail art of the week: Crazy eyes

After a little break from painting my nails I couldn’t pick what colour to paint them so I basically chose them all.

The usual Barry M nail varnishes mostly from the Gelly Hi Shine range which seems to be better quality than the normal colours, the original collection Bright Pink is really thick and the Ice Cream yellow needs a few coats to get the thick coverage.

I have previously done the crazy eyes look with actual googly eyes that I bought from my local haberdashery but found they were not that practical as they just kept falling off. 

This time after my nails had dried (cheating obvs using Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat) I used my white nail art pen to draw oval circles and then added the smaller black dots on top.

I feel like I repeat myself often when it comes to these easy designs, but it’s such a simple thing to do and so effective! You can even go crazier and give your nails a crossed eye look, because why the hell not?

Try it and show me yours!

2014-09-03 19.49.49

Food: Aubergine pizza and parmesan courgette chips

I am on a roll this week with cooking. This time it’s pizza and chips. Yes you heard that right!

I can’t believe how much you can do with courgettes, this parmesan courgette chips recipe caught my eye and of course they’re pretty simple.

Cut your courgettes lengthways, then quarter them and drizzle with oil. Mix up about a handful of parmesan cheese with thyme, oregano and garlic powder and then sprinkle over and put in the oven.

courgette parmesan chips

For the next part of my dish I found an aubergine pizza recipe that looked so simple and a great healthy way to actually eat pizza!

The aubergines need slicing into about three quarters of a centimetre thick and then the recipe says to cover them in salt and leave to dry out on kitchen roll for 30 minutes but time is of the essence and my stomach was grumbling so I skipped that and drizzled oil over sprinkled on some salt, pepper and oregano and stuck them in the oven.

It said to roast for 25 minutes but my aubergines were done in about 15. In the meantime I made the tomato base which was just some garlic a can of tomatoes and some oregano and Italian herb seasoning, I also added a bit of cayenne pepper too obvs.

Spoon the sauce onto the aubergine and put your chosen cheese on top. The recipe calls for mozzarella mixed with parmesan but I was in the mood for halloumi so I put slices of that on top of each ‘pizza’ base.

aubergine pizza

The pizzas only need a few more minutes for the cheese to melt, and that time depends on how cooked you like your cheese. I put mine in towards the end of the courgette chips cooking time and they all came out together.

I’m always one to have mayo with my pizza and chips so to stay healthy if you really need a side dip even though the dish is quite juicy already, I’d go for a bit of Greek yoghurt mixed with some herbs or do like I did and mash up an avocado with some lime juice.

The flavours went so well together and would you believe you can eat healthy pizza and chips without any dough in site?!

Also whilst browsing the Damn Delicious blog I used for the chips, I spotted a courgette parmesan crisps recipe that I am absolutely going to try, such a great idea for a snack!

aubergine pizza anc courgette parmesan chips

Food: Courgette, tomato and Cheshire cheese bake

I’m addicted to Pocket which I think I mentioned in my previous post, and now I’ve installed it on my computer at work which could be a slippery slope because it’s getting full of recipes that I just don’t have the time to cook!

My co-worker Charlotte, who blogs over at Girl Next Door Fashion, is an avid vegetarian and we do spend a large portion of our day talking about food and all the different recipes we’ve spotted and want to make.

I’m in no way a vegetarian because I love burgers too much but I do find that about 90% of my cooking is vegetable-based and I love collecting new recipes to try out.

You’ll always find my fridge space stocked with my main staples of courgettes, mushrooms, aubergines, halloumi and (obviously out of the fridge) sweet potatoes, that I can always throw together to make something tasty.

The recipe I found for this bake was on the Guardian newsletter that drops into my work email every morning and as soon as I saw the word courgette I was sold.

I went out to Aldi and bought the ingredients I needed: onions, Cheshire cheese, Greek yoghurt, courgettes, eggs and passata. I already had passata and an onion in my cupboard and I chucked in some mushrooms for good measure.

courgette cheese bake 1The method was so simple, and if it’s basically just a vegetarian lasagne if we’re going to be basic. The recipe says to cook and layer it up in a skillet but I don’t have one of those so it was much easier to fry off the courgettes and layer everything in a glass dish as I went along.

I’ve never had Cheshire cheese before and as much as I love cheese I’m a bit weird about flavours especially the strong ones. But I tasted a little bit and it’s quite crumbly but after it’s baked over the egg and yogurt topping it’s absolutely heavenly. 

courgette cheese bak 2

The flavours were so complementary and it was only really salt, pepper and oregano that were the seasoning but sometimes you just need to keep things simple to really enjoy the taste. I can be a bit overzealous when making one of my own concoctions and never end up tasting individual flavours just a lot of cayenne…

I’m impressed with how quick this was to make, as it only need 20 minutes in the oven. I think if I made this again I would probably just give the onions a quick fry as I prefer them softer but if you like yours a little crunchy then there’s no need.

I had a side of green beans with my serving (which I forgot to take a picture of!) and it was just the right vegetable to go with the dish. If you’re looking for something a bit different but still with ingredients you’ve used before this is a great recipe to make, and it’s so goddamn delicious!

There’s more than enough for three big portions, I’m going to freeze some because I don’t fancy eating it for three days in a row like I did with my chili…

courgette cheese bake 3Recipe

4 medium courgettes, cut lengthways in thin slices
Olive oil
500ml passata
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
200ml Greek yoghurt
1 egg
100g grated cheese (Burts Blue and Bourne’s Organic are good Cheshire options, but use any cheese you like)

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Brush the courgettes with oil, then chargrill and season lightly. Build the dish in a skillet: start with a good layer of tomato passata in the base, top with a thin layer of red onions, and add a tightly packed layer of courgettes, sprinkled with oregano, salt and pepper. Repeat, and finish with a thin layer of passata. Mix the yoghurt and egg, season, then spoon on top of the passata. Cover with cheese, sprinkle with oregano and bake for 20 minutes until golden.

 

Food: Sugar Cookie Lemon Tarts

It was my turn to bake at work last week, it feels like forever for it to get round to my turn now that so many of us are on the baking rota. This is a good thing really because it means I can eat (and silently judge) everyone’s efforts.

I always favour a lemon flavoured recipe because it’s such a simple ingredient to bake with and always produces such a great end result. I’m always a champion of lemon drizzle cake but wanted to try something a bit different.

If you’ve ever come across Pocket then you’ll know how easy it is to see a link and save it for later, and then forget that you saved it for later and never read anything. This is how I discovered the recipe for sugar cookie lemon tarts.

I vaguely remember that Lauren Conrad shared the link to the Inquiring Chef and found it really interesting because it wasn’t just a recipe but a post on millennials and what people do after doing some obligatory travelling and then returning home.

She spends some of her Saturday afternoons baking and she shared the tarts as one of those recipes.

Not one to brag *ahem* but these turned out perfectly on the first bake. Such a simple recipe to follow, I was surprised at how easy the cookie crust was and how the filling baked nicely.

The dough was straightforward to make and I would certainly recommend trying to keep it in the fridge for the full half an hour, I made two batches of this and the second time I didn’t leave it in as long and was a lot stickier when moulding into the bun tins.

The lemon filling was probably fiddly just for the pure reason that I had to separate the yolks from the white and put them in the right bowl.

Pour in the filling bang in the oven and they’re done in 12 minute on the dot. Sprinkle over some icing sugar and a squirt of whipped cream for decoration!

 sugar cookie lemon tart

All pretty:

finished lemon tart

Recipe

For the cookie crust:

115g unsalted butter, softened
100g granulated sugar
1 egg
190g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
Pinch salt

For the lemon filling:

2 eggs
3 egg yolks
60ml cup whipping cream
Juice from 1 large lemon
¼ cup granulated sugar

For topping
4 tblsp icing sugar
120ml whipping cream
(or alternatively squirty cream)

Method

1. To make the sugar cookie crust, in a standing mixer (or by hand) beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes oh high. Add the egg and mix on medium until fully incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt all at once and mix on medium just until no spots of flour remain, about 20 seconds (do not over mix). Wrap the dough in parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.

While the oven is preheating, make the lemon filling by whisking together the eggs, egg yolks, whipping cream, lemon juice, and granulated sugar until smooth.

3. Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator. Divide the dough into quarters and divide each quarter into six even balls of dough. Press each ball of dough it into a space in the muffin tin. Using your thumbs, press the dough into the tin so that it is evenly distributed along the sides and bottom. (Don’t worry if it is a bit thinner in some places than others.) Pour the lemon filling into the centre of each sugar cookie cup, stopping just below the top of the crust.

4. Bake until the filling is set and the crust begins to turn golden, 10-12 minutes. (Do not over bake – pull the tarts out just when you see any golden colour on the crusts.) Allow these to cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Before serving, dust the tops of the tarts with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Beat the whipping cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spoon the whipping cream on top of each tart. Serve chilled.