University of Birmingham graduate with a passion for food & cooking as part of a healthy lifestyle

Twitter: @EatRainbowLove
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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Jam butterfly cakes

 I think these are so cute, and I love making cupcakes where you don't have to then make a buttercream or other frosting after - less washing up! These are perfect if you want something a bit more special than just a plain vanilla cupcake, and, like the smartie squares, these would be brilliant to bake with kids. With it being spring, and the summery weather emerging, the butterfly design is very fitting - make sure you use pretty, coloured cupcake cases! You can use any flavoured jam you like and fruit or sweet to decorate, so these are versatile as well.

Makes 12-14 cupcakes
- 125g soft margarine
- 125g caster sugar
- 2 medium eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 125g self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- spoonfuls of jam (e.g. raspberry or strawberry - I used damson)
- fruit, to decorate
- icing sugar, to dust

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/190 degrees.
2. Cream together the butter and the sugar. Gradually stir in the egg and add the vanilla essence.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder and fold into the micture.
4. Spoon into cupcake cases on a baking tray, filling half of the case.
5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Place on a wired rack to cool.
5. Once cool, carefully cut the tops of with a knife and spoon jam into the centre. Cut the top in half to make butterfly wings and place on top of the jam.
6. Repeat until all done, place a raspberry, or another fruit or sweet, on top (optional), then dust with icing sugar!

Enjoy :)

Chocolate smartie squares

Do you have a particular food that you associate with your childhood? Well, these are mine! My mum used to make these for parties and other special occasions, and I practically begged her for the recipe today. As a kid you can imagine how chocolate squares with bright smarties on top can be so exciting - and they still are... They are no-bake cakes - just need to set in the fridge so are really simple to whip up. They are great for making with children because they are easy and fun. They are also perfect treats for Easter if you don't want to splash out on a ton of expensive shop bought cakes and eggs. For Easter celebrations you could top with cadbury's mini eggs instead of smarties. If you're making these for a party or event with a large number of people then I would recommend doubling the recipe because they don't last for long! (In fact they're so good, my mum was reluctant to give the recipe away, haha)

Makes 16 squares
- 50g margarine
- 150g dark cooking chocolate, broken into pieces
- 2 tbsp runny honey
- 250g digestive biscuits, crushed
- 16 smarties

1. Line a square tin (7 inch) with grease proof paper, and grease with margarine. (make sure the paper sticks up out the sides of the tin as you will need to use this to grip when removing the squares from the tin)
2. Melt the margarine, chocolate and honey in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove from the heat and add the biscuit crumbs, mixing thoroughly until coated.
4. Spoon into the tin and push down, smoothing the top. Mark into 16 squares with a sharp knife, and place a smartie in the centre of each.
5. Leave to set in the fridge for a couple of hours, then break into the squares and serve.

Enjoy :)

Simple potato salad

Hope everyone is enjoying the hot, sunshine weather - this potato salad is a perfect side dish for a barbecue, or any other summery meal. I made this last night to go with sausages in buns, salad, kettle chips and scotch eggs - last minute thrown together BBQ style food! We had a few leftover potatoes from the night before, which is why I decided to make this. Usually I would make a potato salad with new potatoes (with the skins still on) and fresh chives, but we didn't have any fresh herbs in the house, and the potatoes we had cooked the night before were Sainsbury's taste the difference Vivaldi potatoes and were peeled. But this was still really yummy and the best part is that all the ingredients are ones which almost every household will already have!

Serves 2
- about 6 potatoes (depending on size), cut into chunks
- 1 heaped tbsp of mayonnaise (I used Hellman's light mayo)
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard (or any other mustard you prefer)
- few pinches of paprika (probably about 1/4 - 1/2 a tsp)
- fresh herbs, chopped such as chives OR dried herbs (I used thyme)

Simply mix the potatoes with all the other ingredients until combined. Season to taste.
You could also add bits of cooked bacon, or chunks of hard-boiled egg to make this more substantial and interesting!
Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Oven-baked rigatoni with salami

Yay, I've finally followed a Jamie Oliver recipe! I always tab loads of recipes off his site that I want to cook, but for some reason I never get round to cooking them. This was a delicious pasta bake - something different from the usual thanks to the crisp, salty salami. It had strong Italian flavour from the tomato and balsamic, and lots of different texture from the melted mozzarella, crisp salami, soft pasta etc. What I liked about this dish was that the pasta wasn't coated in sauce, it was more like rigatoni with a topping, kind of like a pizza. Having said that, it wasn't dry or bland or anything, although some people do prefer a pasta bake to have more sauce. If you do prefer it this way then I suggest adding more tinned tomatoes, balsamic and crème fraiche than the recipe suggests. If you're worried about this meal being too unhealthy then cook less pasta to have a smaller portion, and use reduced fat crème fraiche and mozzarella (I did this - both in Sainsbury's be good to yourself range). I served this with garlic bread for a delicious Saturday night feast!
Serves 4
- drizzle of olive oil
- pack of sliced salami (I used milano)
- 1 red onion, chopped
- sprinkle of garlic
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 3 tbsp crème fraiche
- fresh basil leaves, chopped (I didn't have any fresh basil so bought chopped tomatoes with basil in)
- salt & pepper
- 300-400g rigatoni
- ball of buffalo mozzarella, sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry half the salami until crisp. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly until the onion is soft.
2. Add the balsamic, chopped tomatoes crème fraiche and basil. Mix together, season to taste and simmer for a few minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni according to the packet instructions (around 12-14 mins) and drain once cooked. Tip into a baking dish and pour over the sauce.
4. Lay the mozzarella over the top with the rest of the salami. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Blueberry pancakes

These American-style pancakes are a perfect breakfast treat, or make a great brunch. I had never even eaten blueberry pancakes before today, so I was a little weary about making them, but everything went fine and they were delicious. The blueberries poking out of the batter in the pan makes it harder for the pancake to cook through, but if you squash them down it isn't a problem and the blueberries go warm and jam-like mmm. This recipe made about 10-12 pancakes so I heated the oven to keep them warm as the stack got higher and higher. I am ashamed to say that my boyfriend and I ate all of these between us with no struggles (food blogging is stretching my stomach!) I served them with a drizzle of honey and topped with some extra blueberries. We also had blueberry jam and crème-fraiche - the cold cream went perfectly with these warm fluffy pancakes, and it was the Sainsbury's 'be good to yourself' version yay. I definitely recommend making these! 
 Makes 10-12 pancakes
- 250g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 250ml milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 50g butter/margerine, melted - plus extra for frying
- 100g blueberries

To serve:
- honey or maple syrup
- blueberry jam
- blueberries
- crème fraiche
1. Sift the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
2. Combine the milk, eggs and melted butter in a jug. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk together. Stir in the blueberries.
3. Heat a frying pan and add a small knob of butter. Ladle some batter into the pan and flip when the underside starts to go golden brown. 
4. Repeat until all the pancakes are done; keeping them warm on a plate in the oven until you have a huge stack of them.
5. Drizzle with honey or syrup, top with blueberries, and serve with crème fraiche.

Enjoy :)

Crunchy potato wedges

Everytime I make wedges I usually just slice the potato, add some oil and seasoning and bake in the oven. Don't get me wrong, they are delicious like that but I stepped it up a whole new yummy-level by adding breadcrumbs and fresh parsley. We had these delicious crunchy wedges with the beef burgers (see previous post for recipe). They were full of texture and flavour, perfect!

Serves 2
- 2-3 large baking potatoes, sliced into wedge shapes
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
- generous amount of paprika
- 1 wholemeal crust of bread, crumbled into crumbs
- handful of fresh parsley, chopped

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Drizzle some of the oil into a deep baking tray and place in oven to heat up.
2. Remove the tray from the oven, and lay the wedges in the oil. Drizzle with the remaining oil. Season with salt & pepper, and sprinkle with paprika.
3. Coat the wedges in the breadcrumbs and parsley. Toss the tray until all combined.
4. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the potato is cooked through, and the breadcrumbs are crisp!

Enjoy :)

Bacon and parsley beef burgers

I love making beef burgers from scratch, mainly because I get to smoosh raw beef mince around in a bowl with my hands (haha), but also because it just tastes so much better! You can put any herbs you want in and can even stuff them with cheese (I want to stuff the patties with gorgonzola or brie next time mm). When I've made these in the past I've always added breadcrumbs for extra texture, and used a beaten egg to bind the ingredients but this time I didn't add the breadcrumbs and I just used a dash of olive oil instead of egg and it worked fine and hey, I saved an egg... I love the flavour that the smoked bacon gives and parsley compliments it really well (and its my favourite herb).
I apologise for not having any good pictures of the beef burgers when they're cooked - the electric lighting does not agree with my camera and it is almost impossible to take still, clear photos. So they looked far better than in the picture below! We served the beef burgers on ciabatta, with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and ketchup. Delicious Friday night treat!

Makes 2 large beef burgers, or 4 small/medium
- 300-400g beef mince
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp garlic granules
- 3 rashers smoked bacon, fried and chopped
- lots of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- salt & pepper
- dash of olive oil for binding (plus extra for frying)
- whatever bread/bap you want and fillings like cheese, salad and sauces!

1. Mix together the mince, onion, garlic, bacon, parsley and seasoning in a large bowl until evenly combined.
2. Break into 2 or 4, drizzle with olive oil, and shape into patties.
3. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and add the beef patties, cooking for 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through (cut one open and check!). Cook for less if you like them rare and longer if you prefer them well done.
4. Serve in ciabatta/bap/bread with the fillings and sauces of your choice.

Enjoy :)

Toblerone mousse

My boyfriend and I love Toblerone so when I came across this recipe I just had to try it! Making chocolate mousse is really simple, with only 3 ingredients, buuuuuut I recommend you buy a whisk or electric hand whisk because I was only equipped with a fork and making 'stiff peaks' in the egg whites was a challenge to say the least! Nonetheless, it still worked perfectly - this dessert is deliciously creamy, rich and soft. It topped off our salami pasta bake nicely (will post this recipe as well!) You can use any chocolate you like with this recipe; normal cooking chocolate, or anything - I think Cadbury's Wispa would taste yum. However, I liked the Toblerone because it left crunchy bits of almond nougat in the mousse giving it an interesting texture. But don't worry it still has that smooth, airy chocolate mousse texture that everyone loves.

Serves 4
- 200g Toblerone, roughly chopped
- 2 eggs, separated
- 125ml whipping cream

1. Melt 150g of the Toblerone, stirring so it doesn't burn. Cool slightly.
2. Stir the egg yolks into the melted chocolate. Whip the cream until thickened, then fold into the chocolate mixture.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then lightly fold into the chocolate mixture. Spoon into 4 glasses or bowls and chill for 3 hours or overnight.
4. Decorate with the remaining Toblerone, and serve.

Enjoy :)

Friday, 23 March 2012

Simple sweet and sour chicken

I've been having a lot of Chinese-style food recently, and although this is nothing particularly clever or special, I thought I would post the recipe I used anyway, because it was delicious! This dish is best served with rice; any style you like.

Serves 3
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large, or 3 medium chicken breasts, sliced
- 2 small red onions, chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, sliced
- 1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
- 1 large jar of sweet and sour sauce e.g. sharwood's, chicken tonight, uncle ben's. (we used Sharwood's with pineapple and pepper pieces)
- frozen peas (as many as you like)
- 1 small tin of pineapple rings (usually has 4 rings), chopped

1. Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan, and add the chicken, cooking until brown all over.
2. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, then add the pepper.
3. Once the chicken is cooked through, and the onion and pepper is soft, add the sweet and sour sauce. (TIP:  instead of scraping round the jar with a spoon to get the remains of the sauce, add a splash of water to the jar, screw on the lid and shake. Then pour into the pan!)
4. Add the peas and pineapple and cook until the sauce is bubbling and the peas are cooked.
5. Serve with rice and a side of prawn crackers!

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Marinated lamb with tomatoes and mozzarella

I had no idea what to do with these lamb steaks for dinner - after lots of thought I decided to just improvise and make a simple marinade and then roast in the oven with mozzarella on top. It was lovely; I served it with the bacon and rosemary potato rosti (check this post!) and savoy cabbage - it was a deliciously satisfying meal! The lamb was full of flavour and it was very simple to do.

- Lamb steaks
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp very lazy garlic in white wine vinegar (or just garlic granules)
- handful of fresh or dried rosemary (I used dried)
- salt & pepper
- cherry tomatoes
- mozzarella, sliced

1. Pour the olive oil and balsamic into a dish, and spoon in the garlic.
2. Rub the lamb steaks in until they are covered with the oil and vinegar.
3. Sprinkle lots of rosemary and turn the steaks over until they are covered with the herbs.
4. Seasoned and cut up cherry tomatoes, placing them around the steaks. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until cooking.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5 and bake in the oven covered with foil (not cling film!) for about 15-30 minutes depending on how rare you like your meat. Halfway through this cooking time, place the mozzarella slices on the lamb so it has time to melt.

Enjoy :)

Monday, 19 March 2012

Tiramisu cake

If you want a moist sponge with hints of coffee, a rich, chocolate frosting, and a creamy centre then this is the perfect cake. The mascarpone centre also has a splash of Marsala wine, so it definitely has all the best parts of a tiramisu. I made this for Mother's Day as I've said before, my mum loves tiramisu. This was no more difficult than making another cake like a Victoria sponge - and it was worth the extra time of brushing coffee over the sponge, whipping the mascarpone and making the frosting because the result was amazing, everyone loved it, it went so fast! It is perfect for a naughty treat, especially afternoon tea.... you have to try this cake!
Ingredients for the sponge:
- 150g butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 150g self-raising flour
Ingredients for the filling:
- 2tsp caster sugar
30ml of very strong coffee
- 125g tub mascarpone
Icing sugar to taste
- Dash of marsala wine
Ingredients for the frosting:
- 50g butter
- 30g dark chocolate
- icing sugar (as needed)
- extra coffee
1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Line 2 square 10cm x 10cm cake tins with parchment and butter.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and pale, gradually beat in the eggs and then fold in the flour. If the mixture is very heavy, add 1-2 tbsp water.
3. Spoon into the cake tins and bake for 20-30 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool.
4. Peel the paper off the cakes and trim the top flat on each. Add the sugar to the espresso and stir until dissolved. Brush over half of the espresso on one of the cakes, on the trimmed side. Brush the remaining espresso over the trimmed side of the other cake.
5. Whip the mascarpone (with electric beaters) until it is spoonable then add enough icing sugar to sweeten it, around 3 tbsp. Add a dash of Marsala wine - this give the cake more of a 'Tiramisu' flavour, and makes the mascarpone softer. Spoon over the cake and then carefully drop the other cake on top, espresso-side down. Press down firmly.
6. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a microwave or in a bowl set over gently simmering water. Add some icing sugar and coffee. Let it cool and thicken slightly then pour in an even layer onto the cake.
7. Sprinkle with any decorations you like, or leave plain. Leave to set somewhere cool.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Brie and bacon on fresh, rustic bread

 A delicious Mother's Day breakfast! We are lucky to have a bread machine - my mum prepares the mixes and puts the machine on before bed so it is ready in time for the morning. This is a rustic loaf, half wholemeal half white flour and is so delicious. There is nothing like fresh bread, I seriously recommend getting a bread machine if you love soft, fluffy bread with a crispy crust, and don't want to be rushing to the supermarkets at opening time! I will not put the recipe for the bread on here as if you have a bread machine, it comes with a series of recipes and instructions, and this is where this recipe came from. I decided to finish off the bacon and open a fresh pack of brie to melt on top of the bread and it was yummy as anticipated. Quick and simple but thought I would share anyway if you were ever stuck for breakfast, brunch or lunch ideas!

1. Simply slice the fresh bread and butter it, dry-fry the streaky bacon in a pan until crisp all over, and place on top of the bread.
2. Cut slices of brie and place on top of the bacon on the bread, and grill until the brie has melted.
Enjoy :)

I made a tiramisu cake yesterday for mother's day today so will post the recipe for that later today - it looks and smells delicious can't wait to taste it and share it with you! We are going for lunch/dinner at my sister's today for a Chinese-style feast - she is roasting pork belly with sweet chilli sauce and a noodle stir fry mmm. I may take pictures and post the recipes but not sure yet, check back soon!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Oven-baked rosemary & bacon potato rosti

As I was grating all the potatoes I thought to myself, is this really worth it!? For some reason, I had the expectation that this would be watery and bland (even though I seasoned etc.) Boy was I mistaken! This was one of the best potato dishes I've ever had, and definitely the best one I've ever made. I don't think I've ever even had a rosti before - if I have it wasn't memorable. So I was just going to make a traditional rosti and fry them individually, but then I decided to oven-bake one big one so the potato is cooked for about an hour, meaning the result is a soft, creamy inside, and a crisp outside, mmm. I served this with balsamic, rosemary and tomato marinated lamb which complimented it perfectly. I will post the recipe for the lamb over the next couple of days. Who would have thought grated potato would taste so satisfying...

Serves 2-3
- 3 rashers streaky bacon
- 750g potatoes, peeled (waxy potatoes - I used Sainsburys taste the difference Vivaldi)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion
- butter, for greasing and topping
- dried or fresh rosemary, for sprinkling
- handful of parmesan, grated

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5. Dry-fry the bacon in a pan until golden and crispy. Cut into pieces once cooled.
2. Boil the potatoes whole for about 5 minutes. Drain and place in cold water.
3. When cool enough to handle, grate the potatoes into a large bowl, occasionally adding olive oil.
4. Finely chop the onion and add to the grated potato along with the bacon.
5. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat. Grease a loose-bottomed cake tin with butter and scatter the potato mix into it. Do not pack it down with your hands. Sprinkle with rosemary and parmesan, and scatter butter over the top. (Picture below is at this stage)
6. Place on top of the baking tray in the oven and bake for 1 to 1 and a half hours - until the potatoes are cooked through and crisp on top.

Enjoy :)

St. Patrick's Day Peppermint Creams

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm not Irish, but this festive day seems to be increasingly popular in Britain and America so thought I would celebrate with some delicious sugar treats. My family and I usually make peppermint creams at Christmas time, and use Christmas shape cutters such as stars, holly leaves, bells etc. I wanted to make these today 1. because I could use green food colouring since mint is associated with green anyway and 2. because I got the recipe from my favourite baking and treats cookbook of all time (I will put a picture and link at the bottom of this post as per usual!) These are so simple to make, with only a few ingredients, and they are so cute and delicious. They are light and refreshing and go perfectly with dark chocolate decorations. So if you want to whip up something festive today, these are the winners!
Makes 30 (I divided it by 3)
- 300g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 1 egg white
- peppermint extract, to taste
- green food colouring
- dark chocolate, melted for decoration

1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Whisk the egg white with a fork in another large bowl until a little frothy.
2. Beat in half the icing sugar to the egg white. Add a few drops of peppermint extract, then gradually add the rest of the icing sugar until you have a firm paste.
3. Add a few drops of food colouring and mix or knead in to the paste.
4. Sprinkle icing sugar on the work surface and roll out the paste.
5. Cut out any shapes you desire and place on a baking sheet on a tray. Leave to dry out in a cool place.
6. Melt the dark chocolate and spread or drizzle on the peppermint creams. Place in the fridge for an hour or two.

Enjoy :)

This is the book I got the recipe from, it is brilliant, it has pretty much anything you could ask for in terms of sweet treats. It even has savoury treats such as muffins, croissants etc. I definitely recommend!

Italian chicken bake

I bought the 'Eat In' magazine yesterday which I love, but don't usually buy because it's £2.50 and quite thin! Having said that, it gives me so many brilliant ideas for meals or baking, and offers really good tips on things like matching different herbs to different ingredient. The recipes are also really easy to follow and the photography is great. So I spent most of my train journey home yesterday with my head in this magazine; I even started to annotate some of the recipes!? Haha. I made this last night, and I only changed two things from the original recipe: not using pepperoni on top (my mum doesn't like pepperoni), and adding my favourite ingredients for Italian cooking, which if you read my other posts, is of course, balsamic vinegar! I served this dish with a bit of pasta, but I can imagine it working just as well with rice or even potatoes. Or just a larger portion of the bake with some cheesy garlic bread mm. 
Serves 2
- 1/2 onion chopped (I used 1 small onion)
- drizzle of olive oil
- 2 chicken breasts, sliced/chopped
- sprinkling of garlic granules
- sprinkling of dried oregano
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
- 60g ball of mozzarella, sliced
- 25g sliced pepperoni (I didn't use this)
- salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6. Fry the onion in the oil, until translucent.
2. Add the diced chicken to the pan and brown for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and fry for another couple of minutes. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and bubble for 5 minutes.
3. Pour into an ovenproof dish. Top with the sliced mozzarella and pepperoni, if using, and bake for 25 minutes or until bubbling. Season and serve with a carb of your choice!

Enjoy :)