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

Twitter: @EatRainbowLove
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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The best victoria sponge

All I'm going to say is that this looks good, but it tastes even better!

For the sponges
- 175g margarine
- 50g butter
- 225g caster sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- dash of vanilla essence
- 225g self-raising flour
- dash of milk 

For the buttercream
- 150g unsalted butter
- 225g icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tbsp hot milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

- raspberry jam
- strawberries

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 degrees and grease and line two cake tins.
2. Cream the butter/marg and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Gradually whisk in the eggs and vanilla essence, then sieve in the flour and stir in the milk to create a creamy mixture.
4. Pour the mixture evenly into the two cake tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool.

5. Meanwhile, to make the buttercream, simply whisk all the ingredients together until light and smooth.
6. Once cool, turn the sponges upside down and spread the jam on one side, and some of the buttercream on the other.
7. Sandwich together and leave for around 10 minutes.
8. Spread the remaining icing on the top of the cake (generous amount!) and top with some strawberries in a decoration of your choice!
Enjoy :)

Beef cannelloni

Although this dish never looks particularly appetising (hard to dish up neatly!) it is absolutely delicious. Fairly similar to lasagne but much more fun to make and more delicious in my opinion. Cannelloni is pasta tubes (or lasagne sheets rolled up) stuffed with a filling - in this recipe it is mince and onion, but spinach and ricotta is also very popular, and vegetarian. I then used a passata to cover the tubes in a dish, and made a bechamel sauce to finish, with lots of cheddar cheese of course. This is a real comfort food treat, and I guarantee you will love it! I served this on a bed of spinach leaves with sun-dried tomato flat bread. Mm mm.

Serves 3-4
- drizzle of olive oil
- 500g beef mince
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 small red onions, chopped
- pinch of mixed dried italian herbs
- large jar of passata
- salt and pepper
- handful of fresh basil, torn
- handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 egg, beaten (for binding)
- cannelloni tubes (about 12)
(For bechamel sauce)
- 25g butter
- 25g plain flour
- 300ml milk
- lots of cheddar cheese, grated
- spinach and cherry tomatoes, to serve

1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and brown the mince, with the garlic, onion and dried herbs. Once cooked, set aside to cool.
2. In a bowl, mix the passata with the salt and pepper, fresh basil, and cherry tomatoes. Set aside.

3. Grease a large baking dish with oil and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
4. Once the mince mixture is cool enough to handle, mix with the beaten head and stuff the pasta tubes. Warning - this can be tricky and messy - the key is to stuff them quite full so the mixture is stuck together. Place the cannelloni tubes in the dish
5. Pour over the passata until the pasta is covered.
6. Next, make the bechamel sauce. Heat the butter in a pan, and once frothing, stir in the flour. Stir for about a minute, then very gradually add in the milk, stirring constantly. This can take around 20 minutes to thicken over a low heat but it is worth being patient because a white sauce can go wrong so easily.
7. Once the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, pour over the top of the passata covered pasta tubes, and top with lots of grated cheddar.
8. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and cook for a further 20 minutes or until golden brown and the pasta is soft.
9. Serve on a bed of fresh spinach leaves, with cherry tomatoes.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Creamy bacon and leek risotto

I have a really similar post here so I wasn't sure whether to bother putting this up, but this recipe doesn't have chicken in it and is more creamy because of the crème fraiche so it is kind of different! This is really simple, and really delicious so give it a try...

Serves 2
- knob of butter
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 4 rasher of bacon, cut into chunks
- 1 leek, sliced
- 175g rice
- 300ml water with 1 chicken stock cube
- 2 heaped tsp of crème fraiche
- parmesan, grated
- parsley, for garnish

1. Melt the butter in a large pan and fry the garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the bacon and continue to fry for a few minutes.
2. Add all the leeks and cook until separated and softened. Next, stir in the rice until coated.
3. Meanwhile, make up the stock and add to the pan - bring to the boil, then simmer for around 15 minutes - or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft.
4. Stir in the crème fraiche and serve with grated parmesan and a sprig of parsley!

Enjoy :)

Summer salad

Yay, summer has finally hit England! It probably won't last for long but the heat and the sun lured me into making a refreshing salad for lunch yesterday. Thinking back I wish I had put fruit in it after my post about the salads in Ibiza, but oh well it was still delicious and very filling while still being healthy/nutritious. You don't have to put egg in it if you don't like egg, or any of the ingredients for that matter, swap something you don't like for something you do like - salads are amazing like that! I haven't put quantities for everything because you can put as much or as little as you like :)

- lettuce, torn (I used little gem)
- cucumber, cut into chunks
- tomatoes, quartered
- 1/4 of an avocado, cut into chunks
- new potatoes (already cooked), quartered
- 1 egg, hard boiled, quartered
- salad cream

Simply put everything together in a bowl! You can make your own dressing or try different ones with this salad but you can't beat a bit of Heinz salad cream - it goes with every ingredient! Hope I have inspired you to make some interesting salads this summer

Enjoy :)

Chocolate and vanilla jam cupcakes

I made these for my 19th birthday the other week, for friends and family. I hadn't made cupcakes for a really long time so loved doing it, and actually discovered that piping icing isn't so bad! I've never been that good at piping technique but realised that with some good piping bags stuffed full of lots of icing, it really is quite simple and fun to be creative with it. I wanted the contrast of chocolate and plain vanilla sponges as well as the contrast with the plain cream icing and pink icing so that they looked good on my cupcake stand. Make sure you use cute, colourful cupcakes cases to make these scrummy cupcakes look even more appealing. I use this recipe time and time again, I have probably posted them on here before. It's so versatile - you can pretty much do anything you like, adding fruit to the sponge, using different coloured icing and decorations etc etc. Just have some fun!

For the sponges (makes 24)
- 225 margarine/butter (or both)
- 225g caster sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 225g self raising flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp semi skimmed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- cocoa powder (for the chocolate cupcakes)

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 degrees. Line a few cupcake trays with cupcake cases.
2. Beat together the marg/butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding flour occasionally if curdling occurs.
3. Sift the remaining flour and baking powder into the bowl, then gradually whisk in the milk and vanilla essence.
4. Spoon half of this mixture into cupcake cases.
5. Sift cocoa powder into the other half of the mixture, stirring and adding more until it is dark brown in colour. Spoon this into the remaining cupcake cases.
6. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool on a cooling tray.
7. Once cooled, you can begin making the buttercream. But first, take the vanilla cupcakes and cut a small hole in the middle of each to fill with a tsp of jam. I used raspberry but any flavour would work well.
8. Cover with the cut out bit of sponge, and they are ready to be iced!

For the buttercream
- 150g unsalted butter
- 225g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp hot milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pink colouring (for vanilla sponge cupcakes)

1. Cream together the butter and sugar with the milk until smooth and silky. Stir in the vanilla extract.
2. Spoon this into a large piping bag with a nozel in (I ordered large, plastic disposable icing bags off amazon - you just snip off the end, pop in the nozel, fill with icing and are easy to use!) and start icing the chocolate sponge cupcakes - I go clockwise in a swirling pattern to get the effect you can see in the pictures.
3. Once all the chocolate cupcakes are done, add some pink food colouring to the remaining icing and stir until fully combined. Pipe this on to the vanilla cupcakes in the same way as the chocolate ones. Voila! You can decorate with fruit (strawberries or raspberries) or sprinkles or whatever really, but I just wanted to keep them simple.

Enjoy :)

Oh, and just wanted to show you this cute apron my friend bought me for my birthday, I love it, can't wait to wear it!!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Crispy chicken thighs with red pesto spaghetti

Sun-dried tomato pesto, cream, mushrooms, onions, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, parmesan - coating spaghetti on a bed of spinach leaves, with parmesan crusted chicken. Mmmmm. Chicken thighs can be quite difficult to eat since these ones had the bones still in, but I actually prefer having a chunk of meat with pasta, rather than it being chopped up inside (unless it's a pasta bake). I used chicken thighs because they still have the skin on and I love the crispy texture with the moist chicken. This is one of my perfect meals since I'm obsessed with pesto and pasta!

Serves 2
- 4 chicken thighs
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- dried italian herbs
- parmesan, grated
- 180g spaghetti
- 1 red onion, chopped
- handful of mushrooms, sliced
- handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered and some left whole
- 1/2 jar of red pesto (sun-dried tomato)
- dash of cream
- fresh basil, torn
- handful of spinach leaves

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7. Cut slits in the layer of fat on the chicken thighs - this will help it crisp up.
2. Brush with olive oil, season, sprinkle with herbs and grated parmesan.
3. Bake in the oven for 35 - 45 minutes - cover with foil for the first half of the cooking time!
4. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions, and in a separate pan, fry the onions in some olive oil.
5. When softened, add the mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, and continue to fry.
6. Place some tomatoes in with the chicken for the remaining 5 minutes of the cooking time.
7. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pan. Stir in the onions and mushrooms, and add the pesto and cream, stirring and tossing until coated. Add some fresh basil.
8. Place the spinach leaves in two bowls/plates and serve the spaghetti on top. Top with the chicken thighs and tomatoes. Garnish with some fresh basil and parmesan.

Enjoy :)

Lemon and parsley salmon

(Completely forgot to take a picture once cooked!)
This is a simple dressing/marinade for salmon that is guaranteed to produce wonderful flavours and moist fish. It's buttery and it's tangy mm mm. Perfect served with new potatoes also tossed in a buttery, lemon and parsley sauce.

- salmon fillet
- few knobs of butter
- handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- fresh lemon

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 degrees.
2. Simply place the salmon on foil, dot with the butter, sprinkle on the parsley, and squeeze over the lemon.
3. Wrap in the foil, place on a tray, and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.

Enjoy :)

Egg fried rice

My mum bought some 'sticky pork belly slices' from Sainsbury's the other week which you just bake in the oven, so I decided to whip up some egg fried rice to go with it. Usually I would add peas but I felt like using carrots and green beans for a change. This is super easy to make - probably not the best egg fried rice ever because if you make it properly you should let the rice cool down etc etc but who has time for that.... this is fine if you just want some yummy rice very quickly!

Serves 2
- 185g wholegrain rice
- 1 carrot, sliced
- large handful of green beans, chopped
- sesame oil (or olive)
- 1 egg, beaten

1. Cook the rice according to packet instructions in salted water, with the green beans and carrot. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the rice, stirring until coated. Gradually pour in the egg, stirring and frying until the egg is set. Voila!

Enjoy :)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Food, glorious food

Just wanted to do a quick post about some delicious food I've eaten recently (not cooked by me)!

I went to Ibiza on holiday with my boyfriend at the end of June and the all inclusive food was not anything special, but we did eat out a few times, my favourite being this caesar salad:
It was the most delicious salad I've ever tasted - the chicken was bread crumbed which added brilliant texture and it was still so moist, there were mini garlic croutons, lots of lettuce, but the best part was the sauce. The caesar dressing was creamy and refreshing but there was also a ton of balsamic vinegar (reduction) drizzled over the top. I would never have thought of putting balsamic vinegar with caesar (and I put it with most things!..) and I wish I had because it is genius. So next time you are making a caesar salad, don't forget to try it because the sweetness works perfectly with everything else.

On holiday, I also started an obsession with milka chocolate - this oreo one is amazing, and I also tried the caramel one and Daim one too. Nothing beats the oreo though! I haven't seen this oreo one anywhere in England yet, so let me know if you come across it :)

One evening we ate at this beautiful restaurant overlooking the sea with this view of the sunset:
 It was a beautiful place - I definitely recommend going on holiday to Portinatx. It's north of Ibiza, so the non-clubby part. The beaches are lovely, and our hotel was right on the sea, and the town had some lovely restaurants including this one.
The salads were great, mixing normal salad stuff (lettuce, carrot, tomato) with meat or fish (chicken and tuna), as well as lots of fruit (pineapple, strawberries, melon etc.) I wouldn't have thought so many flavours would taste so delicious together but they did. I particularly loved the pineapple chunks with the chicken - so refreshing and sweet, mm mm.
For main we both had a mixed grill which was steak, two different cuts of chicken, lamb and pork. It was all marinated beautifully and was very tender. It was a nice change from the normal British mixed grill of sausages, gammon and a ton of bacon!

Back in rainy England, I celebrated my birthday with my mum and sister at this lovely restaurant in London called Little Sicily - the website is 
The cocktails were so delicious but I'm here to talk about food so... we started with a bread basket of focaccia, breadsticks etc and a meat board of different salamis and hams which were scrummy. My sister and I also shared the calamari which came with a perfect tartare sauce. I'm not quite sure how I feel about squid yet... it wasn't rubbery which was good, but occasionally when I realised what I was eating I did feel slightly grossed out - I love fish but I'm not great with the more unusual seafood!
 For main course I had Pollo Creme which is basically a big piece of chicken served on papperdelle, with a creamy, mushroom and white wine sauce. I am a sucker for anything creamy so this was my perfect meal. The flavours were great and the chicken very moist, although I think it could have done with more sauce.
 The desserts were presented beautifully - I ordered the cheesecake with berry coulis and my sister had the hot chocolate souffle with pistachio ice cream. They were to die for!
I would definitely recommend this restaurant, the service was great, as was the atmosphere and the food was brilliant - a bit expensive but perfect for a celebration.

My friend also took me out for lunch on my birthday to the Blue River Cafe - I had the rosemary foccacia filled with chicken, bacon and a blue cheese sauce, with a salad. It was so yum - and actually very filling. The chicken had a bit of a spice to it which was interesting but there wasn't enough blue cheese sauce so parts of it were a little dry, but it was a lovely lunch all the same.

My boyfriend and I decided to go less posh and ordered Dominoes for my birthday meal - what beats texas bbq and new yorker pizzas!? He then made me pancakes and porridge the following morning which was a lovely surprise.

I hope everyone else has been enjoying some delicious food recently, since the weather is so rubbish in England we need something to treat ourselves! I have a few posts lined up including egg fried rice, another salmon recipe, and the cupcakes I made for my birthday, so don't forget to check back :)

Monday, 9 July 2012

Prosciutto, parsley and mushroom pizza

The ingredients and method for the pizza base and tomato topping you can find in my previous post, here! I forgot to mention just how delicious these pizzas were, especially this one - it has so much flavour from the salty prosciutto and the parsley goes so well with the mushrooms. This is the pizza I will make time and time again, so definitely try it out. (Sorry again for the photo quality) I served these pizzas with a salad of lettuce, spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, red onion, mushrooms, and fresh parsley and basil.

Pizza base and tomato sauce ingredients and instructions are here!

- 1 ball buffalo mozzarella, sliced
- large handfuls of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 pack of prosciutto
- button mushrooms, sliced
- handful of parmesan, grated
- olive oil

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degrees. Once the tomato sauce is spread on the pizza dough, sprinkle with half the parsley and place the mozzarella on top.
2. Cover with the prosciutto and mushrooms, and drizzle with a little olive oil.
3. Sprinkle the remaining parsley on top, and all of the parmesan.
4. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy :)