National Breakfast Week: Homemade Pop Tarts

When I was young Pop Tarts were the fanciest breakfast treat you could imagine.  Fresh from the land of the brave, us northerners were smitten by those little parcels of goodness.  Flash forward to 2015 and you can get flavours you could only have dreamed about as a ten year old girl. Despite this, I never actually buy Pop Tarts any more.  I don't actually own a toaster and the thought of eating them cold is just a step too far in my eyes.  I decided to make my own.

Homemade Pop Tarts can be as difficult as you like.  If you're looking for a project you can make the pie dough and filling from scratch; or if you're looking for a quick fix, ready rolled pastry and a jar of Bonne Maman will do the trick.  Obviously I chose the latter but I am looking forward to experimenting with the fully homemade versions soon.  Just watch this space.

Homemade Pop Tarts

1 sheet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten with a tsp of milk
Bonne Maman raspberry jam (I'm a jam snob)
250g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla 
2 tbs whole milk 
cute sprinkles

Preheat the oven to  175°C and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Unroll your pastry and using a sharp knife cut 8 rectangles, you'll need two for each tart.  Place four of the pastry rectangles on your prepared baking sheet and pop a heaped teaspoon of jam in the middle of each tart.  Sandwich with the tops and using a fork press your edges together to form a seal.

Pain each tart with a thin layer of the egg wash and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Once cool make your frosting.  Combine the icing sugar with the milk and vanilla and mix to form a thick, spreadable paste.  If it's too thin or thick at this point, add a little more sugar or milk.  Spread each tart with the frosting and scatter with sprinkles.  Enjoy!

National Breakfast Week: Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars

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I'm aware that most of the time I go a bit overboard with breakfast posts.  Not everyone is as into pancakes and french toast as I am.  Sometimes you just want something you can grab on your way out the door, that's where these peanut butter breakfast bars come in.  They're quick and easy to make and the best thing is a batch will last two of you a whole week!

Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars

270g rolled oats
270g rice krispies cereal
375g smooth peanut butter
100g plain chocolate chips
200g runny honey
75g light brown sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

Grease and line a 20x30 brownie pan with baking paper or use a disposable foil tray (like this).  Place a large saucepan over a low heat and melt the honey, peanut butter and sugar until combined and runny before adding the vanilla extract.

In a large bowl combine the oats and rice krispies, pour over the wet ingredients and mix together until everything is coated evenly.  Pour into your prepared pan and press down with the back of a spoon to form a lovely even layer.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and refrigerate until set.

Cut into bars and keep in an airtight tin for a quick and easy breakfast.


National Breakfast Week: Toffee Nut Pancakes

Pancakes, need I say more?  In my eyes there is no breakfast better than the mighty pancake.  I'm always on the lookout for a new and delicious variety, this is my number one Sunday morning treat.

This is a mega indulgent and ridiculously delicious stack of pancakes.  Hooked yet? They're a bit strange as the batter doesn't contain any sugar, instead gaining that super sweet taste from the pulverized toffee pieces.  If you're not much of a morning person you could always make the batter the night before and rest it in the fridge, that way you can have delicious pancakes without the hassle of weighing, cracking and mixing.

Toffee Pecan Pancakes
First posted to Pet Lamb Girls Blog
150g plain flour
50g Ovaltine
1.5tsp baking powder
200ml milk
3tbsp sunflower oil
1 large, free range egg
75g English toffee
75g pecans, toasted
1tbsp butter, melted for frying
Place a large, none stick frying pan over a medium heat and melt 1tbsp of butter.
Put the toffee and pecans in the bowl of a food processor and grind them down till the resemble large breadcrumbs.  Don't worry if you have a few larger chunks of toffee, they'll melt into an ooey gooey treat while cooking the pancakes.
In a large bowl mix all of the dry ingredients together.  Whisk the milk and the egg together in a jug and add to the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated.  Add the oil and mix to combine.  If using right away rest the batter for 5 minutes, if making in advance cover the batter with clingfilm and place in the fridge till you are ready for pancakey goodness.
Using a ladle scoop a small portion of batter onto your heated frying pan and cook over a medium heat for around 3 minutes per side.  Look out for bubbles rising to the surface of the batter and  bursting, this is usually a good indication of when to flip your pancake. 
Serve with a scattering of pecans and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

National Breakfast Week: Rhubarb & Strawberry Overnight Oats

This jar of goodness is the perfect breakfast for those of you who love to sleep till the very last second before hauling ass to work.  More often than not, this is me.  I'm a lazy morning person when I have a deadline. Maybe it's my inner childishness rebelling against me actually being on time for work, it's a bloody good job I work with my best friend.  Overnight oats is the solution to leaving home on an empty stomach because all of the heavy lifting is done the night before, in fact this recipe should be enough to keep you going for a few days.  Even better, right?!

If you can't be bothered to make the compote from scratch you could always use a good quality jam, or even Nutella if you're that way inclined.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Overnight Oats
For the Oats:
125ml Hazelnut Milk (or any milk you want, I just like hazelnut)
100g Rolled Oats
1tbsp Flax-seed
2tbsp dessicated coconut
1tsp Cinnamon
1/2tsp Ground Ginger
100ml Greek Yogurt
For the sauce:
250g fresh or frozen rhubarb
150g fresh or frozen strawberries
Splash of water
1/2tsp vanilla extract
2-4tbsp sugar - to taste
For the Oats:
Simply put everything into a large bowl and stir together.  Pop in the fridge over night or decant into jars (mixture is easily doubled or tripled) with the sauce for grab and go ease.
For the sauce:
Put everything in a sauce pan and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer until you have a delicious thick, jammy sauce.  Around 30 minutes.  Leave to cool and use in you oats, spread it on toast or slap into some rice pudding. Yum!
(First posted to the Pet Lamb Girls blog)

National Breakfast Week: Banoffee French Toast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it can also be the most exciting.  There's nothing I love more than waking up on a day off and pottering around the kitchen, without a care in the world.  It can be nutritious, set you up for a long day or it can be plain old fun.  Fun breakfasts are my specialty and with this week being National Breakfast Week I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.  Pancakes and waffles and french toast, oh my!

First of all is this unbelievably decedent banoffee french toast.  This one is best kept in the banks for that special occasion, or to get you out of trouble if you've been a naughty girl or boy.  Who can resist these thick slabs of brioche soaked in a maple eggy wash, slathered in caramel and fried bananas?! I'm drooling, you should be too!

Banoffee French Toast
Serves 2
1 loaf brioche, sliced into 2cm thick slices
25ml whole milk
4 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 glug of maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 bananas, peeled, cut in half and sliced lengthwise
50g soft brown sugar
Small handful of raspberries or blueberries
Butter for frying
Tub of mascarpone cheese
Jar of store bought toffee / caramel sauce
In a large shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Set aside.
Place a large, heavy frying pan over a medium heat and melt a knob of butter, dip your bananas in the brown sugar to coat before adding them to the frying pan.  Cook until lightly caramalised and smelling delicious.
Rinse your pan out and add another knob of butter over a medium heat.  Dredge two slices of brioche in the egg mixture before placing in the hot pan.  Cook until golden brown on both sides.  Do the same with two more slices
To assemble your toast spread one slice with a thick layer of mascarpone, two pieces of caramalised banana and some berries. Repeat with the second layer and drizzle with toffee sauce. Sit back and enjoy.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Whenever I have to explain the concept of gluten free to a customer in my shop; I'm usually met with a curled lip and a snort of disgust (while I try and contain an eye roll) and attempt to convince them that gluten free is not a dirty cake for sickly people.  If there was ever a cake to convince people that gluten free can be just as good, if not better, than a normal cake then this is it.  

This cake packs a super intense hit of chocolatey, gooey goodness with the added bonus that an actual chimp with a whisk could knock it up in a matter of minutes.  Three ingredients and an oven is all it takes to get this bad boy from your screen to your mouth.  What are you waiting for, get whisking!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

8 large eggs
450g good quality plain chocolate, chopped
250g unsalted butter, softened

Heat your oven to 160°C and grease the line the bottom and sides of a 8" spring-form cake tin with greaseproof paper.  Wrap the outside of the cake tin with tin foil and place in a large baking tray with high sides.  Fill and boil a kettle, you'll be making a Ban Marie to bake your cake later.

Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer, or use an electric whisk and beat the eggs until doubled in size, this should take around 5-7 minutes.  While your eggs are fluffing up melt together the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.  Once the chocolate is melted fold in half of the egg mixture using a spatula, repeat with the remaining egg until the batter is smooth and streak free.  

Pour the batter into you prepared tin and place it, still inside the baking tray, in the oven.  Being very careful, pour the recently boiled water into the baking tray until it reaches half way up the side of the cake tin.  Bake for 25 minutes until risen and just barely set, it should look a little bit like a chocolate brownie.  Take the cake tin out of the Ban Marie and place in the fridge until completely cooled.

When ready to serve remove the cake pan and carefully peel off the greaseproof paper.  Dust with icing sugar and serve with mixed berries and cream.

Oat and Blueberry Cookie Pies

Do you ever just find yourself daydreaming about cookies? I do, quiet often, more often than I care to admit.  Luckily I have the luxury of using my job as an excuse for my fixation for these sweet treats, in all honesty it's just because I goddamn love a good cookie! 

In my mind these giants were supposed to be adorable little cookies sandwiched with butter cream and jam, nothing more than a mouthful. As you can see, I didn't quite manage the dainty little morsels I set out to make. My inner monologue seemed to take over while I was rolling the dough, 'that's not big enough', was repeating over and over in my head till I eventually ended up with these monstrous cookie pies. 

These babies are super adaptable. Just replace the dried blueberries with whatever you've got on hand, I'm thinking chocolate chips with a peanut butter and Nutella centre next time.

Oat & Blueberry Cookie Pies
Makes 12 - 14 cookies

250g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g porridge oats
150g dried blueberries

150g unsalted butter, softened
100g Philadelphia soft cheese
500g icing sugar
Blueberry jam

Preheat the oven to 180˚C and prepare a baking tray with parchment. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla then, using a wooden spoon, mix in the remaining cookie ingredients.
Roll heaped tablespoons of the mix into balls and place onto your prepared tray leaving a little room for spreading, flatten slightly. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until just golden. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the filling, cream the butter, Philadelphia and icing sugar together, add a splash of milk if a little stiff. Spread over half the cookies followed by a dollop of blueberry jam.  Sandwich with the remaining cookies and enjoy.


Butternut Squash and Gruyere Soup with Spiced Chickpeas

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Christmas is over and the goose has gotten fat, and by the goose, I mean me!  A month of eating whatever I like, whenever I like, has left me a bit on the chubby side and craving nutrients. How do I rectify this, with diet and exercise? Why no, have you met me?!  I've just exchanged my ludicrous lunches and mid afternoon snacks with a bowl of homemade soup.  I mean, surely this will help me blitz my muffin top...right??

This is the perfect winter warmer to keep your tummy full and happy.  It packs a good old punch of chilli too, which is never a bad thing.  The roasted spicy chickpeas add a pop of protein and help keep you fuller for longer.  The cheese is simply there because it's nice and I'm greedy, feel free to leave it out if you're wanting to save the calories.

What's your favorite homemade soup to help beat the bulge?

Butternut Squash and Gruyere Soup with Spiced Chickpeas
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Serves 4

For the Soup:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
300ml vegetable stock
100g gruyere cheese grated
100ml reduced fat coconut milk, keep some for a drizzle

Spiced Chickpeas:
1 tin of chickpeas, drain and rub them dry in a clean tea towel
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon

First of all make your chickpeas.  Preheat the oven to 170°C and prepare a large baking tray.  Place your dried chickpeas in a freezer bag and add the oil, close the bag and shake to coat.  Open and repeat the process with the dry spices.  Pour the chickpeas onto the baking tray and roast for 25 minutes.

While the chickpeas are roasting heat the coconut oil over a medium heat in a large pan.  Fry the onions until soft and slightly coloured.  Crush in your garlic cloves and cook for another minute or so.  Tip in the butternut squash and all the spices followed by the vegetable stock and simmer until the squash is tender, around 20 minutes.

Once cooked through transfer everything to a blender and process until smooth and creamy.  Pour back into the pan, stir through the grated cheese until melted before adding the coconut milk.  If the soup is still a little thick add some water until it reaches your desired consistency.  Check your seasoning, heat through and serve with the spiced chickpeas and a drizzle of coconut milk.

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