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

Twitter: @EatRainbowLove
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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Skinny chocolate and cranberry muffins

This is a recipe I got straight off the BBC Good Food website so I'm just going to link the recipe rather than writing it all out because I feel like it's copyright or something like that. I usually either create my own recipes or alter existing ones slightly but this time I didn't change a thing!

Here is the recipe:

So first of all, how cute are these cupcakes cases!? I just got them from Sainsbury's the other day in Nottingham so they should be selling them in most stores around the country at the moment if you're looking for some pretty cases.
As you can see, the muffins didn't seem to rise very much which was a pain, but I guess it's because they're 'healthy'. Don't expect these to be some sort of miracle muffins that taste amazing but are really low in fat, because although they do taste good, they are not like normal cakes or muffins because they don't have the normal butter, sugar etc. The fats have been substituted for natural yogurt and oil, which is also why these muffins were quite dry after a few hours of cooling. What we did was just heat a muffin in the microwave for 10 seconds every time we wanted one, because the texture is just so much better when they're warm - it makes them more moist etc. I love the other textures in these from the cranberries, I think dried fruit in cakes is scrummy so that's definitely a plus. They also have a really strong chocolate flavour which makes these more appealing. Give them a try if you're trying to be healthy but still need a cake fix or something sweet, but don't expect them to be the best thing ever - there is a reason why cakes are so good - because of the fat and sugar in them!

Enjoy :)

Penne with pesto and field mushrooms

I bet you're thinking oh god not another post about pasta and pesto... sorry, I just couldn't resist! This is my all-time favourite meal when I want something quick, satisfying, delicious and not too unhealthy (so most nights, haha). Two ingredients - pasta and pesto, and you can do so many different things with them. This is pasta, green pesto, green beans, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, field mushrooms, fresh parmesan and some caramelised onion chutney mm mm. I would usually just add green beans, mushrooms, onion and spinach like here, but recently I've started liking cherry tomatoes a lot more and had some large flat mushrooms in the fridge which I wanted to bake in the oven. This is vegetarian so for those who have to have meat with dinner, chicken and/or bacon are brilliant with this too, and probably salmon or tuna, although I have yet to try that. This is a perfect dish for students who will nearly always have pasta and a jar of pesto in their cupboard - onions are really cheap to add in, as are tomatoes and green veg to make sure you're being fairly healthy. Parmesan is expensive so have it without or grate some cheddar cheese on top if you wish. I have some friends who cook pasta and pesto almost every night at uni but it's different each time because you can add so many different things, so it takes a while to get boring. I didn't use onion or garlic in this recipe because I wanted to keep it all to one pan, so this is also ideal for students who are trying to save time and don't want to do a lot of washing up!
**I will be making some posts in the near future of easy but delicious meals for students, as this has been requested, so check back if you're in need of some recipes to follow or just some tips and ideas on how to eat well on a budget!**

Serves 1
- 90g wholewheat penne
- 2 large field mushrooms
- olive oil
- handful of fine green beans, cut in half
- cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1/3 jar of green pesto
- fresh parmesan, grated
- few leaves of fresh basil, torn
- 1 heaped tsp caramelised onion chutney (optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 degrees.
2. Brush the mushrooms in olive oil and season. Place on a baking tray, cover with foil, and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.
3. Cook the penne pasta in boiling water according to packet instructions (around 15 minutes)
4. Add the green beans to the pasta water when the pasta has about 5 minutes remaining on the cooking time. Drain together and return to the pan.
5. Stir in the cherry tomatoes and pesto until the pasta is coated.
6. Remove the mushrooms from the oven when soft all the way through and place on a plate, and serve the pasta on top / next to the mushrooms.
7. Sprinkle with parmesan and fresh basil, and serve with caramelised onion chutney if you wish.

Enjoy :)

Coffee and mascarpone cupcakes

I made these for my mum's birthday since she loves coffee cake, like this tiramisu cake which I made for mother's day here! I usually always just stick to buttercream to ice cupcakes (I would've done coffee buttercream for these), but I thought a cream cheese frosting would be a nice change. It does mean you should probably keep them in the fridge though, as the mascarpone might go off otherwise, but I found that if anything it made the sponge more moist so keeping them cold worked great! You can decorate these with anything you like - walnuts would look really good placed on top and are the perfect match for coffee, but none of us really like walnuts so that's why I didn't do that. We tried to find chocolate coffee beans but couldn't which is a shame because they would have looked perfect. In the end I used these chocolate hearts which are really cute - they came from Sainsbury's, I think they were the Silver Spoon brand. These decorations will be particularly perfect for Valentine's day. The cupcake cases are from Ikea last year so they probably don't do them anymore. I love the colours and designs but always get annoyed because they're tall, slim cupcake cases, and I don't have a suitable cupcake tin to bake them in, so they lose their shape and it means the sponge doesn't go higher then the case. This really annoys me because I don't think the cupcakes look as good aha. Sorry for the long introduction! In short, these cupcakes make a really nice change and are super moist and flavoursome so definitely give them a try if you like coffee flavoured cakes.

Makes about 12
- 100g butter, softened
- 100g soft brown sugar
- 100g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 2tsp coffee mixed with 100ml water
- pinch of salt
- dash of milk

For the mascarpone frosting
- 200ml mascarpone
- 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- the remaining coffee

1. re-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 degrees, and line a cupcake tin with 12 cupcake cases.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs and fold in the flour and baking powder.
3. Stir in the coffee, a pinch of salt and a dash of milk until creamy.
4. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden.
5. Leave to cool on a wired rack.
6. Meanwhile, to make the frosting, whisk together the mascarpone, sugars and coffee. Once the cakes are cool, spread on top.
 7. Decorate the cupcakes with anything you like - chocolate hearts, coffee beans, walnuts, grated chocolate etc etc. Don't forget to store in the fridge!
Enjoy :)

Moroccan Lamb

I made this meal a few weeks ago in an attempt to make two lamb steaks a bit more interesting. I looked up various Moroccan lamb recipes and most of them were slow cooked and different cuts of meat so I had to make quite a few adjustments. I nearly always use smell to decide what I should put with what, and this is especially important when adding spices in this dish, but I had a blocked nose at the time so cooking this was a bit of a nightmare. It also meant I couldn't really taste it  very well when eating it - all I know is that it was very hot in my mouth (spicy hot), but I am a massive wimp when it comes to spice so if you enjoy spicy food this will probably seem very mild. My mum said it had a lovely flavour so I'm trusting her and sharing this with you guys! The honey and apricots will add a sweetness to counteract the spice, which will go perfectly with the warm cinnamon and tomato flavours.

Serves 2
- 2 lamb steaks
- olive oil
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tbsp turmeric
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 300ml lamb/beef stock
- handful of dried apricots, quartered
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- handful of pine nuts
- handful of parsley, chopped

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3 / 160 degrees. Rub oil on the lamb steaks.
2. In a dish, combine all the spices, and rub the lamb steaks in the mixture until coated. Keep in the fridge for half an hour.
3. Fry the onion and garlic in a large pan until soft. Add the lamb steaks, browning each side. Then, add the tinned tomatoes and stock, and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the liquid has started to reduce.
4. Next, add the apricots, pine nuts, honey and parsley and stir.
5. Return the mixture into the dish and cover with foil. Cook in the oven for about an hour, or until the meat is tender and the sauce reduced. Serve with rice and vegetables!
Enjoy :)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chicken and mushroom pie

*I have made this before - the recipe is here, but wanted to post some better photos as I made it tonight for my mum's birthday and absolutely loved it again!*

I served it with creamy parsley mash again and spring greens mm mm. Make sure to check the other post for the recipe because you don't want to miss out on this delicious meal

Enjoy :)

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Creamy mustard pappardelle with leek and green beans

This is a bit of a cheat, because I didn't actually make this - my mum did - but we put together our ideas to whip this up as a quick but delicious dinner. As I've mentioned before, I love adding green vegetables like green beans to pasta because it's a yummy way to incorporate the nutrients. Having said that, this meal is not particularly healthy since it has double cream in it... I like how the creamy mustard sauce just coats the pasta rather than being an actual sauce, which shows how not much cream is actually used - it would be too rich with lots of sauce. This is a really delicious meal, and will impress even though it only takes about 15 minutes to make!

Serves 2
- 200g pappardelle pasta
- knob of butter/margarine
- 1/2 leek, chopped
- handful of fine green beans, cut in half
- 100ml double cream
- 2-3 tsp wholegrain mustard
- handful of parmesan, finely grated

1. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water according to packet instructions (about 10-15 minutes)
2. Melt the butter in a pan, and cook the leeks.
3. Add the green beans to the pan with the pasta in when there is about 5 minutes of cooking time left.
4. Drain the pasta and green beans and add to the pan with the leeks, stirring.
5. Pour in the double cream and the mustard and mix together until combined and the pasta is coated in a sauce.
6. Serve with fresh parmesan on top!

Enjoy :)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Viennese fingers

Wasn't really sure what to call these - I thought I was just making shortbread, but the way I piped the biscuit and put chocolate on some of them makes them more like viennese biscuits. Not much to say about these other than that they were divine buttery, sugary delights! Really light but still comforting, so a definite winner. The reason why only some of the biscuits are dipped in chocolate is because these were soo fragile - they kept breaking when I was covering them in chocolate ahh! Shortbread is meant to be crumbly but I think I must have made these slightly too thin...

Makes about 16
- 100g butter
- 25g golden caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g self-raising flour
- 100g plain chocolate

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3 and line two baking trays with grease proof paper.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, and stir in the vanilla extract.
3. Stir in the flour to make a fairly stiff dough.
4. Place the mixture in a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe about 16 fingers onto the baking sheets.
5. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until pale golden. Leave to cool.
 6. Melt the chocolate and gently dip the ends of each biscuit in the chocolate to coat. Leave to set in a cool place.
My mum bought me this 'bake' ornament thing in the picture below which is so cute, I'm hopefully going to find a place for it in our kitchen at uni, otherwise I will just keep it in my room. Couldn't resist featuring it in a photo!
Enjoy :)

Leek and potato soup with brie

Another wintery recipe - sorry I know it's only August! I had all the ingredients for this in the house and had never really made soup before so I was really excited to try it out. I didn't expect the texture to be so thick and smooth so was really pleased and it tasted so creamy and delicious! If you prefer a chunky soup then feel free to alter the recipe slightly - you don't have to blend it in a food processor, you could just chop the potatoes smaller to begin with. This tasted great on it's own, but once I added a few chunks of brie it just made it so much better - more creamy mm mm. I served this with a tear and share bread.
Serves 2 
- knob of butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 leek, sliced or chopped
- 1 large baking potato, cut into chunks
- 1 chicken stock cube with 300ml water
- dash of milk
- salt and pepper
- few slices of brie
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onions, garlic and leek. Cook for around 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the potato.
2. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Then cover with a lid, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the potato is softened.
3. Put the soup into a food processor and add some milk. Blend until smooth (a minute or two). Season to taste.
4. Return the soup to the pan to heat through, and add the slices of brie. Stir until melted, then serve!
Enjoy :)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Brie and cranberry parcels

These make perfect starters and are actually more ideal for Christmas time, but I had all the ingredients in the house so couldn't resist! They're really messy and all oddly shaped (as you can see...) but I love that they're a bit different. The filo pastry I used was the jus rol brand and had actually been opened for quite a while so had dried out a fair bit, making these harder to shape - so if you use the pastry fresh then they will probably look neater and more appealing. 
*I'm not going to put exact quantities because it becomes pretty obvious when making them and it depends how many you want to make for however many people*

- Filo pastry cut into squares
- butter, melted
- brie, sliced
- cranberry sauce/jelly

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 / 190 degrees.
2. To make one parcel, take 3 squares and brush them with melted butter. Layer them on top of one another with the points sticking out at different angles, like a star shape.
3. Place a slice of brie in the middle and a teaspoon of cranberry sauce and lift the pastry corners up to form a parcel, pushing together gently with fingers.
4. Brush the outside with more melted butter and place on a baking tray.
5. Repeat as many times as you desire!
6. Bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the filling is hot and melting, and the pastry golden brown and crisp.

Enjoy :)

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Stuffed red peppers

I made these with the stuffed mushrooms - I love meals like this, I just think it's a really good way to eat the vegetable as opposed to just having them chopped up in something - it's much more interesting and you actually get the flavour of the pepper. I made a simple tomato and basil risotto to go inside and then just topped it off with lots of cheddar cheese!

Serves 2
- 1 large red pepper, cut in half
- olive oil
- 1/2 vegetable stock cube with 300ml water
- 125g rice
- cherry tomatoes, quartered
- basil leaves, torn
- cheddar cheese, grated

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 degrees, and remove the seeds from the pepper.
2. Brush the pepper halves with olive oil and place on a baking tray.
3. Meanwhile, to make the risotto, prepare the stock and pour into a pan, bringing to the boil. Add the rice and cook over a moderate heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is soft to taste. (You can always add more water)
4. Add the tomatoes and basil to the rice, and stir, heating for a few minutes.
5. Stuff the pepper halves with the risotto and grate lots of cheddar cheese on top.
6. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the pepper is softened and the cheese is melted.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Stuffed mushrooms

I cooked these the other night and had them with stuffed pepper as well as a main course, but these would make perfect starters. These were so flavoursome from the onion, cheese and salty bacon, and the soft mushroom texture went perfectly with the crunch of breadcrumbs sprinkled on top! Some chopped fresh parsley would have finished this off but I didn't have any in the house - would also improve presentation if sprinkled on top to add extra colour.

Serves 2
- 2 large flat mushrooms
- 4 rashers of bacon, chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- olive oil, for cooking
- parmesan, grated
- 1 slice of bread, torn to make breadcrumbs

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 degrees.
2. Cut the stalks off the mushrooms, and chop into small pieces.
3. Fry the bacon in some olive oil, then add the onion and mushrooms. Cook for around 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Set aside.
4. Brush the flat mushrooms with olive oil and fry for a few minutes to begin softening.
5. Place on a baking tray and top with the bacon and onion mixture. Grate some parmesan on top and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. (Lots of water will probably seep out of the mushroom during cooking, so don't be surprised if the tray is wet)
6. To finish off, top the mushrooms with breadcrumbs, and cook under the grill for a coule of minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are toasted.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Celebration cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for my friends 21st (and her Dad's 50th) - it's the recipe I always use, just plain vanilla sponge, with vanilla buttercream but thought I would just share the pictures because they're so pretty and sparkly! You can find the recipe here :)

I used a lustre spray for some of the cupcakes, which just gives the icing a really nice shimmer. I think I bought this at David Shuttle but I'm sure you can get them in any cake shop. It's really easy to use and gives such a professional finish.
You can see the effect of this pearl lustre spray below - it just leaves a really glossy finish, which was perfect as the party was themed black and silver - hence the cupcake cases as well. The chocolate letters I used on these cupcakes I think were just from a supermarket, probably Tesco or Sainsbury's.
On all the other cupcakes where I piped the buttercream, I topped with edible glitter dust which I absolutely love. My friends mum bought these from a cake shop for me to use. They're from the range 'edable art' and are in the colours disco silver, and disco black hologram. The silver is so sparkly and more versatile as it would go with any colour icing and is just more simple and elegant. The disco black is also really pretty however, since it has different shimmers of colour - I would recommend both. They were £2.40 each which seems quite pricey for such small pots, but there's so much glitter in there that you probably would never need to re-purchase them!
Below shows the silver glitter, and the picture below you can see the black with the different colours shimmering.
Hope this has given you some ideas of how to decorate cupcakes to give a classy, simple look - they are perfect for any celebration, especially something like New Year's Eve as well. 
Enjoy :)