October Foodie Review

October Foodie Review

Welcome to my October Foodie Review.    As usual I’ve been busy eating and trying out some new products along the way.    As it’s half term and quite a busy time I’ve chosen just three to showcase this month.

Cooks & Co Sweety Drop Red Peppers

I’ve been buying Cooks & Co products for quite a while and am a big fan of their roasted red Peppers but this month I have also tried their Sweety Drop Red Peppers.   These are small tear drop shaped peppers.  They are a little bit crunchy with a sweet and sour  flavour.  I’ve tried them cold in  a salad and also baked in a casserole and both ways worked.  If you’re looking for an easy way to bring a bit of colour and flavour to a salad then they are a great choice.

They are £2.49 for 235g from Cooks & Co and most supermarkets.

Bulgur wheat salad with Cooks & Co Sweety Drop Red Peppers

Monty Bojangles Milky Mischief Cocoa Dusted Truffles

Who can say no to a chocolate truffle?  Unfortunately none of my family and so these Monty Bojangles Milky Mischief Cocoa Dusted Truffles disappeared far too quickly!   They are not as bitter as some truffles and my husband even declared them to be the best truffles he’d ever eaten!  I have to say I loved the whimsical pictures on the packaging too.   Not surprisingly both the chocolates and the packaging have won awards.  I’d love some more of these for Christmas if anyone is reading!

A 200g box of these chocolates costs £4.00 and can be bought online or from most supermarkets.

Monty Bojangles Milky Mischief

Love Food Box

This month I tried my first Love Food box.   It arrived perfectly through the letterbox containing all the ingredients I needed (except the egg and butter) to make my very own S’mores Brookies – delicious chocolate cookies sandwiched with grilled marshmallow and melted chocolate.   The concept is that every month you receive all the ingredients you need to bake something yourself.   Because everything is already weighed out it cuts down on preparation time but you still get the fun of baking.   And if you enjoy baking but don’t bake very often then it reduces waste as you don’t buy lots of ingredients that go out of date before you have time to use them. I normally make slightly healthier treats for my family so my husband especially was delighted with my first box and the children were pretty happy too!

You can buy an individual box for £8.99 or sign up for three months for £26.   There is also an introductory discount to get your first box for £4.50 with the code FIRSTBOX.

Love Food Box S'mores Brookies

That’s all for this month but do let me know if you’ve also tried any of these products and what you think of them.

Disclosure: These products were provided for review but the opinions are my own.


October Foodie Review
Three nut protein power bowl

Three Nut Protein Power Bowl

If you’re looking for a filling, healthy and delicious lunch then why not try one of these three nut protein power bowls?  Full of healthy plant protein from the quinoa, nuts and peanut butter, they’ll certainly help you avoid the afternoon slump.

Three Nut Protein Power Bowl

When I read that this month’s Recipe Redux theme was plant-based protein power bowls I have to admit I felt more challenged than usual.   You see, although I’m aware of the recent trend for ‘bowl food’ and I’ve seen some lovely recipes and pictures online, I haven’t made any dishes in this style until now.

Luckily, I did already have some bowls.  But only just.   I bought them a couple of months ago thinking I really should get on trend.   Well, this month’s Recipe Redux has forced me to do just that.

Three nut protein power bowl

I decided to use black quinoa as the base for my vegan power bowl.   It has a lovely crunch to it but any quinoa would be fine or you could substitute it for another grain.   Quinoa is high in protein though so seemed the perfect choice for this challenge.

I added peas and broccoli as I wanted some green vegetables in there and the peas would add extra protein too.  I love toasted nuts so I used a mixture of almonds, peanuts and cashew nuts as well as a thick sauce with lots of peanut butter in it.

Three nut protein power bowl

The peanut butter sauce has a lovely satay flavour from the ginger, garlic, soy, vinegar and chilli flakes.   When making up the sauce you can keep it quite thick or you can add a little extra water to make it more runny.   Keep tasting it though as the water dilutes the flavour of the other ingredients so you may need to add a little more of something to get it just right.

I’ve placed the ingredients separately in the bowl with the thick sauce in the middle but it’s up to you how you eat it.   Once I began to tuck in I mixed everything up together.   It didn’t look so pretty but it tasted good!

You can eat these three nut protein power bowls hot or cold so it’s a great recipe for taking out as a packed lunch or preparing in advance for an easy dinner.

Three nut protein power bowl

Three Nut Protein Power Bowl

Yield: Serves 1 but quantities can easily be increased to serve more people

These healthy fillling three nut protein power bowls are perfect for an easy filling lunch or dinner.


  • 80g quinoa
  • About 4 broccoli florets
  • 3 tbsp peas
  • 20g peanuts
  • 20g almonds
  • 20g cashew nuts
  • For the Sauce
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp white wine or rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red chilli flakes


  1. Cook the quinoa according to the pack instructions, the broccoli and the peas.
  2. Put the nuts in a dry frying pan and toast them gently until they are golden.
  3. Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce plus a dash a of hot water from the kettle. If the sauce is too thick just add a little more water. Keep tasting and adjust the flavours if necessary.
  4. Serve in a bowl.


This recipe can be served hot or cold and so can be prepared in advance.

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I am linking this to Meat Free Mondays at Tinned Tomatoes and #CookBlogShare at Sneaky Veg.

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Three Nut Protein Power Bowls
pumpkin apple muffins

Pumpkin and Apple Muffins

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with a pumpkin then why not have a go at these spiced pumpkin and apple muffins?   They’re easy to make and a great way to use up seasonal autumn produce too.
pumpkin apple muffins

Every year I go and pick at least one pumpkin.   Last year I made a pumpkin and chickpea stew and the year before, a pumpkin spinach and feta quiche,  but this year, inspired by many of the international blogs that I read, I’m focusing more on sweeter recipes like these pumpkin and apple muffins and some oaty pumpkin bars that I hope to blog about soon too.

Even though these are muffins, they are not the type of overly sugar loaded ones you buy in the shops.   I’ve used enough sugar to make them sweet but not enough to give you a sugar rush!   If you have a very sweet tooth, feel free to add a little more to the mixture.   Some muffin recipes have more sugar than flour in them!  At least these ones contain apple and pumpkin too so there are some healthy ingredients in there!

I made my own pumpkin puree by roasting slices of pumpkin in the oven.   After it had cooled I cut the skin off and blended the flesh to a puree in the food processor.   I made a big batch and used some for this recipe and kept the rest to use another day.   It will keep for a few days in the fridge or you can freeze it to use later.   Alternatively you can now buy pumpkin puree in some supermarkets including Tesco.

Last year I remember sadly throwing away half my pumpkin as I didn’t manage to use it all before it started going mouldy.   This year I am determined not to let that happen and will be making pumpkin everything over the next couple of week and most probably freezing some too!

Do let me know in the comments how you like to use up any excess pumpkin.  I’ve still got a quarter left and plan to pick another one soon too!

pumpkin apple muffins

Pumpkin and Apple Muffins

Yield: Makes 18

Spiced apple and pumpkin muffins perfect for making with seasonal autumn produce


  • 210g plain white flour
  • 90g plain wholemeal flour
  • 160g soft brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250g pumpkin puree
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 3 apples, (weighed 240g after being peeled, cored and chopped)


  1. Put all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices) in a large bowl. Stir together.
  2. In another bowl lightly beat the eggs then add the pumpkin puree and oil.
  3. Add the pumpkin mixture to the bowl with the flour and stir until just combined.
  4. Stir in the pieces of apple.
  5. Divide into 18 muffin cases.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160C for 30 minutes. Test with a skewer and if it come out clean they are ready.
  7. Sprinkle a little icing sugar over the top to serve if desired


For an alternative topping you could mix some cinnamon and brown sugar together and sprinkle over the top of the muffins before baking.

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I am linking these to Treat Petite hosted by The Baking Explorer and on alternate months by Cakeyboi. I am also linking to Tea Time Treats at Jo’s Kitchen, Lavender and Lovage and Travels for Taste.  They are also my #BakeoftheWeek for Casa Costello and I’m linking to Cook Blog Share at Easy Peasy Foodie, Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

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Pumpkin and apple muffins
Greek quiche

Greek Quiche

This beautiful vegetarian quiche inspired by the flavours of Greece is perfect for feeding a family of four for at least two days.  Filled with feta, spinach, tomatoes and olives it’s both tasty and filling and great for a packed lunch too.

Greek Quiche

I was inspired to make this Greek quiche by my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month, Nic at I am a Honey Bee.   Nic loves baking, animals, all types of challenges and travelling, which is how this quiche came about.   In the midst of a cold winter a couple of years ago she got a new pie plate and inspired by a Greek holiday she ended up creating this lovely dish full of Greek flavours.

I also wanted to use my own pie dish a lovely blue Le Creuset one.  It may not be new.   I’ve had it for a couple of years after winning it in a competition but I’ve never used it.   However, there was something in Nic’s post about getting a new pie dish that reminded me of my own one sitting alone in the cupboard and suddenly I really wanted to use it.

To make this recipe easier and quicker you could use a bought pastry case to make the quiche in.   I made my own pastry using a mix of white and wholemeal flour as I like the crumbliness and rusticity that wholemeal flour gives and adding some wholegrain goodness to a recipe is never a bad idea.

Greek Quiche

I also wanted to make a quiche as after making this mince and tomato crumble recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the type of recipes I grew up eating.   I’m starting to want to make more and more of them and my mum probably made a quiche at least once a week and sometimes with sliced tomatoes on top too!

So for me this recipe neatly combines memories of childhood and holidays and although you might not find a real quiche quite like this in Greece, you would struggle to go to Greece and not eat tomatoes, olives and feta!

I have to say, there were lots of other recipes on Nic’s site that I wanted to make too.  If I hadn’t just made this Greek quiche when she published these amazing Chorizo Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers then today’s post could have been quite different!  I also loved the sound of this simple edamame salad.

Greek Quiche


Greek Inspired Quiche


    For the pastry
  • 300g plain flour (I used 1/3 wholemeal and 2/3 white flour)
  • 100g butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • A little cold water
  • For the filling
  • 11 eggs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 280g frozen leaf spinach, defrosted
  • 200g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • A few olives (optional)


  1. Add the salt to the flour then rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips or put it in the food processor. Add a little water to bring the mixture together. Knead briefly then wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Roll out the pastry and put it in the pie dish. Prick the bottom with a fork a few times. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 180C
  3. Put the eggs in a bowl and beat lightly.
  4. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as you can then break it up and add it to the eggs. Add the salt, black pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes.
  5. Pour this mixture into the pie dish. Add the crumbled feta evenly over the surface then top with a few sliced tomatoes and the olives.
  6. Return to the oven and continue to bake for 45 minutes.
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I am also linking this Greek Quiche to my own #CookOnceEatTwice linky as it’s perfect for more than one meal.  It’s also my #RecipeoftheWeek at A Mummy Too and I’m sharing with #CookBlogShare at Hijacked by Twins and Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.  As it’s World Egg Day on 14 October and this quiche contains a lot of eggs, I am linking to the #TheFoodCalendar at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen.

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Greek Quiche
#BakedinStyle Food styling and photographyevent hazelnut torte

#BakedinStyle Food Styling and Photography Workshop with Currys and Neff

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the fantastic #BakedinStyle food styling and photography workshop at L’Atelier des Chefs sponsored by Currys and Neff.

#BakedinStyle Canapes


I have been blogging for around 5 years and the pictures I took when I started blogging are truly terrible.   The recipes may be delicious but even I look back at my pictures and cringe!  I have improved a lot since I started but I know I have a lot to learn.  Until recently I used a small compact camera but earlier this year after my birthday I treated myself to my first DSLR, a Canon EOS 1300D.   I was immediately impressed by how much better the pictures are.   Even so, I mainly use the auto functions and still have a lot to learn about both photography and food styling.   That’s why this event was just perfect for me.

The l'atelier des chefs kitchens

The kitchen at L’Atelier des Chefs

The event included 3 main activities:  baking a delicious hazelnut torte, learning a little more about photography, especially being encouraged to step away from the auto function and finally it covered the basics of food styling.

After being welcomed at L’atelier des chefs with coffee and delicious canapés we split up into teams and watched a demonstration of how to make the hazelnut torte by chef, Fabrizio.  It really is a perfect cake for autumn with flavours of hazelnut and coffee and filled with lightly stewed apple and apricot jam, although as @CakeandWhisky said, it would also be fantastic with a Nutella filling!

Chef Fab at work

Chef Fab at work

I’ve rarely had oven envy before but somehow the Neff team managed to provoke it as they demonstrated how the sleek Neff Slide and Hide Ovens with Pyrolytic Cleaning worked.  The door slides underneath the oven when you open it and they even have a handy drawer at the top for adding water and cooking with steam.

Neff Ovens at #BakedinStyle

The Neff Ovens

Anyway, as we left the ovens to do the work of baking our cakes, there was a photography presentation by photographer and stylist, Carole Poirot of Mademoiselle Poirot.   Although I have played around with my camera a little since getting it, there is often so little time that I am guilty of just leaving it on the food setting and not being adventurous enough with it.   I found it great to have a little time to experiment without other demands.

Cobnuts #BakedinStyle

Experimenting with my camera and taking photos of the props

The main point I’ve taken away from the event was that if you’re moving away from auto for the first time, then putting the camera on the Aperture Priority setting is the easiest one to experiment with first.  You then just need to set the F. and the ISO.  First set the ISO.  If there’s less light, you’ll need a higher number.   Then set the F. and for now I’m tending to use F.4 as it’s good for focusing on one particular thing and then giving a slightly blurry background.  I’m sure a more experienced photographer would have picked up a lot more but as a novice this was enough for me!   Now I just need to keep experimenting!

Once our cakes were baked we finished them off by filling them with the cooked apple pieces and apricot jam.   Yummy!

Chef Fab filling his cake with apples and apricot jam #BakedinStyle

Chef Fab filling his cake with apples and apricot jam

Mademoiselle Poirot then led a food styling presentation.  A lot of the points were things you would know instinctively if you were trying to make a recipe look good for the camera.   Even so, I found it helpful to think about these things consciously as I tend to be rushing to take pictures and often haven’t thought about presentation until the moment I take my camera out to photograph a dish.   The main points were to balance the picture in terms of colour, scale and proportion, texture and movement and in doing so, make the picture tell a story.

Mademoiselle Poirot styling her cake at the #BakedinStyle Food Styling and Photography event

Mademoiselle Poirot styling her cake

To make the picture tell a story, a mixture of props can be used such as ingredients from the cake, cooking utensils and items from nature, which connect the cake to the right time of year. In our finished styled cake you can see leaves, hazelnuts, apples and a cake slice.

#BakedinStyle Food styling and photographyevent hazelnut torte

Our finished relatively minimalist styled cake

Personally what I really need to do now is think about the styling before I get to the photography stage.  This may involve having enough ingredients to use some as props or maybe not rushing to do all the washing up as soon as the meal is in the oven!

I have to say that this cake and the styling was not all down to my own handiwork, but thank to the three other bloggers in my team, Jacqui at Recipes Made Easy, Sandra at Cake and Whisky and Lucinda at Books Bakes and My Boys.

#BakedinStyle Photography and Food Styling with our finished cake

Overall I had a fantastic day.  I made a delicious cake, learned some really useful photography tips and met some lovely people who I hope to see again at future blogging events.  What could be better on a rainy Saturday afternoon?  All that remains is to thank  the lovely Joe Blogs team for organising it all and if you want to know more about the statistics of #GBBO and the rise in the popularity of baking then do take a look at this fascinating article too.

Hazelnut Torte


  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 15ml milk.
  • 1tsp instant coffee
  • 2-3 dessert apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Icing sugar (for decoration)


  1. Grease and line and 20cm cake tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  3. Beat the egg yolks in.
  4. Add the self raising flour.
  5. Dissolve the coffee in the milk. Fold into the cake along with the hazelnuts.
  6. Beat the egg whites until they hold their shape.
  7. Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture then transfer it to the cake tin and smooth the top.
  8. Bake at 170c for 25-30 minutes. Let it cool then slice it in half.
  9. While the cake is baking, prepare the apples by cooking them in a saucepan with the apricot jam, lemon zest and juice. Cook them down quite a lot or just a little if you want them to hold their shape. Leave to cool.
  10. Fill the cake with the apple and apricot mixture. Add extra apricot jam if necessary.
  11. Dust the top with icing sugar.
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I am linking to Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

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October 2016 #CookOnceEatTwice and September Round up

Cook Once Eat Twice October 2016

Welcome to another month of #CookOnceEatTwice!  I love seeing all the recipes that are linked up each month and get so inspired by them.   Last month I wanted to make so many of the recipes but you’ll have to scroll to the bottom to see which one I did make!  The linky for October is also at the end of this post but first let’s start with the round up of all last month’s delicious #CookOnceEatTwice recipes.

The first entry was this fantastic bacon and black bean chilli from Helen at Roast Chicken and a Country Walk.  It looks so rich and yummy and I love that it uses ingredients that I almost always have at home – It would certainly be a great dish to make big batch of as the weather turns cooler!

bacon chilli #CookOnceEatTwice

Next was Jhuls from The Not So Creative Cook with this Sambal Minced Beef with Fried Egg.   The minced beef sounds so so tasty with all the spices in it from the sambal.


Then Eb from Easy Peasy Foodie linked up a gorgeous Moroccan Lamb Traybake.  Traybakes are great for busy weeknights and this one is just so pretty too!

Moroccan Lamb Traybake

Another beautiful recipe was this Easy Tuna Bake with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Feta by Monika at Everyday Healthy Recipes.   Who would have thought a tuna bake could be so pretty?


Thai curries are amongst my favourite dishes in the world so I was delighted to see this Thai Massaman Beef Curry by Eb at Easy Peasy Foodie.   Curries are perfect #CookOnceEatTwice dishes as the flavours just get better and better the next day!

Thai Massaman beef curry

The next two entries were from Nico at Yumsome, a fantastic blog that I’m so pleased to have discovered.   First Nico contributed this yummy Ajvar, a rich red pepper spread from the Balkans. Doesn’t it look tempting?

ajvar red pepper spread

Nico also made these Perfect Vegan Brownies.  They’re soft and fudgy and look just so moreish! I’m sure they wouldn’t last long!


Then there was another newcomer, Matt from Fresh Menu Planner, with this Spicy Mayoless Avocado Tuna Salad with Salsa.  It sounds really healthy and absolutely delicious too!


I love the next entry.  These Chocolate and Pepsi Cupcakes by Angela at Only Crumbs Remain are such fun with the white icing bubbles on the top and I would love to try one!


I have to say, you can never have too many chilli recipes and if you’re looking for an easy one then look no further than this Chicken Chilli Con Carne  by Eb at Easy Peasy Foodie!

Chicken Chilli con carne #CookOnceEatTwice

Next was another delicious sweet bake by Angela from Only Crumbs Remain.   This Beer Cake with Stoodley Stout looks so moist and delicious and just perfect for colder weather.


Next was my own entry, this mince and tomato crumble is a dish my mum has been making for years but this is the first time I’ve made it!  I loved remaking it and serving it to my family just as my mum always has done.


Then Eb linked up another great easy meal, a Hidden Vegetable Ratatouille Pasta.  Perfect for serving up on a busy weeknight.


Next was Sarah from Tales from the Kitchen Shed with this beautiful Elderberry Tart with Cassis. I have never cooked with elderberries but this looks so delicious it’s making me want to rush out and scour the hedgerows for any berries still out there!


And which entry did I make from last month’s #CookOnceEatTwice?  Well, as Little Miss Spice has just started eating chickpeas and I’d had some success with eggs I could not resist making Jhuls from The Not So Creative Cook’s Spicy Tomato Eggs.  I have to say, they were every bit as delicious as I’d hoped and we all enjoyed them for brunch one day.


The October #CookOnceEatTwice linky is now live too so please come back soon and link up your recipes at the bottom of the page.

Cook Once Eat Twice

Here’s a reminder of the rules:

  • Include a link in your post to Searching for Spice and include the badge.  Add your link to the linky.
  • Tweet @Corinathecook using the hashtag #CookOnceEatTwice and I will retweet all that I see.
  • Include the source of any recipe if applicable and use your own photos.
  • I will pin all entries onto the Cook Once Eat Twice Pinterest board.  I also stumble and yum the entries.
  • It’s acceptable to link up old posts but please update them with the link and the badge so they fit the rules of the challenge.
  • Feel free to link up to other blogging events as well, as long as it is within their rules.
  • Please take the time to visit some of the other links that catch your eye.
  • The closing date is the 28th of the month and the roundup along with the next month’s linky will be posted on the 1st of the following month.
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#CookOnceEatTwice October 2016 and September Round up
Date and Banana Oaty Bars

Date and Banana Oaty Bars

These date and banana oaty bars are perfect if you’re looking for healthy homemade recipes for after school snacks.  With no added sugar and just naturally sweetened by the dates and banana they are a tasty alternative to traditional sugar-laden flapjacks.

Date and Banana Oaty Bars

As I write this Little Miss Spice is beginning her first week of doing full days at school and like many mums one of the things I’m worried about is whether she will actually eat the school lunches!

Her fussy eating has improved a lot over the summer and she is a lot more willing to try new foods which is great.  At least I know she will have eaten something!   Even so, one of the things I do know is that she will be hungry when I go to pick her up.   I really want her to have a healthy diet and so I’m now planning to start making a lot more healthy homemade bars and savoury snacks that I can take to school at pick up time.

Date and Banana Oaty Bars

We made these bars together last week and she loved them.  Dates and overripe bananas are very sweet and so the bars really are sweet enough without you needing to add any extra sugar at all.   I’ve also added some sunflower and chia seeds which provide a bit of protein.   You could substitute these for other seed or nuts to use whatever you have at home.  I’m thinking of substituting some of the dates for chopped dried apricot next time but I haven’t tried this yet.   I’m sure it will work but the bars will be slightly less sweet.

In texture the bars are soft and chewy but with a little caramelised crispier bit around the edges that were touching the tin.   The seeds also give them a lovely bit of crunchiness too.

Date and Banana Oaty Bars

If you have young children or toddlers then making these bars together is a great easy baking activity.   My children absolutely love taking turns to mash the banana and I can be getting all the other ingredients ready while they do that.  They then love stirring it all up and patting it down into the tin.

I adapted the bars from this basic recipe for sugar free banana and date flapjacks.



Date and Banana Oaty Bars

Yield: Makes 16

These vegan homemade date and banana oaty bars make a perfect post-workout or after school snack


  • 2 bananas
  • 170g dates, chopped
  • 180g oats
  • 40g oil (I used vegetable but coconut oil would be great)
  • 40g sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Mash up the bananas with a fork.
  2. Mix in all the other ingredients and press into a greased cake tin.
  3. Bake in the oven at 170c for 25 minutes.
  4. When the bars come out of the oven, cut them into squares but leave in the tin to cool.
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These date and banana oaty bars are a great way of using up blackened bananas so I am linking them up to the No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.  They are also much cheaper than bought snacks so I am linking them to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month by Utterly Scrummy and on alternate months by Fuss Free Flavours.  I am also linking to Cook Blog Share at Easy Peasy Foodie, Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

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Date and Banana Oaty Bars

Mince and Tomato Crumble

This savoury mince and tomato crumble is an old favourite of mine.   With a layer of mince covered with sliced tomatoes and topped with a cheesey crumble, it’s easy to make and great for a midweek dinner as you can make it in advance then just bake in the oven before serving.

Mince and Tomato Crumble

This healthy mince and tomato crumble is my choice for this month’s Recipe Redux challenge.   The theme was First Cooking Recollections.   Now,  I have to admit that I haven’t always been as keen on cooking as I am now.  Rather embarassingly I was struggling to remember any early cooking recollections, only cooking avoidance ones!

My mum was a good cook and I have an older sister and as a child she was the one who liked to help out in the kitchen.   With two women already in the kitchen, there wasn’t really room for a third and why would I need to be in the kitchen anyway?  I think at the time there were a lot more interesting things to think about than cooking.

Mince and tomato crumble

When I went away to university I did allow my mum to teach me a a couple of simple meals and for years I ate easy pasta and rice dishes, often involving simple stews and stir fries.   These meals were healthy but not especially adventurous.   You see, I have always been a healthy eater and did at least pick that up from my mum!

When I was growing up, one of the meals my mum made regularly was her savoury mince and tomato crumble.   I remember her making it when I was a child and she still makes it now when I go to visit.  My sister has the recipe and I know she makes it for her family too.   Until now, I’ve never made it.   After all, they are making it for me when I visit, so I can make other things at home, can’t I?

Mince and Tomato Crumble

Well, earlier this month I visited my parents for a few days and while I was there, sure enough my mum made her mince and tomato crumble.   I had a few ideas in mind for my Recipe Redux challenge but then I started to think maybe it was time for me to start making a few of my mum’s old recipes.  This may not be a recipe I remember making with my mum, but I do remember her making it for me.

Here’s her recipe:


I haven’t changed this much from my mum’s recipe.   She also uses a mix of plain and wholemeal flour and although the recipe she gave me says to use lard to cook the mince, she also no longer uses lard in cooking.  I like to serve lots of vegetables alongside this but if you want you could add more vegetables to the mince too.  I added a little finely diced red pepper but didn’t want to change the dish too much.

For another easy minced beef recipe then do check out my Beef and Tomato Bake as well.

Mince and Tomato Crumble

Savoury Mince and Tomato Crumble

Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 450g lean minced beef
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 280ml beef stock
  • 4-5 tomatoes
  • For the crumble topping
  • 180g flour (I used half white and half wholemeal)
  • 90g butter (Or use an alternative spread)
  • 35g grated cheese (I used Red Leicester)


  1. Put a little oil in a sauce pan and cook the onion and red pepper gently until softened then add the crushed garlic.
  2. Cook for a minute then add the mince. Keep stirring and breaking it up with a spoon until it is slightly browned.
  3. Stir in the flour, paprika, thyme, black pepper, salt and tomato puree. Add the stock then bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. While the mince is cooking, make the crumble topping. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips then mix in the cheese. Season with a little salt and black pepper.
  5. Lightly oil the sides of a casserole dish. Add the minced beef. Cover with a layer of sliced tomatoes. Top with the crumble mixture.
  6. Bake in the oven at 190C for about 30 minutes.


The seasonings can be altered. For a spicy version of this dish, add some hot sauce to the mince.

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I am also linking this to my own #CookOnceEatTwice challenge as well as Cook Blog Share hosted by Hijacked by Twins and Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.  I am also linking to Inheritance Recipes hosted by Pebble Soup and Coffee and Vanilla.

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Mince and Tomato Crumble
September Foodie Review

September Foodie Review

Welcome to this month’s Foodie Review.  I have been busy trying lots of new products this month and have selected some of my favourites to share with you.

Santa Maria Pulled Pork Dinner Kit

Santa Maria Pulled Pork Dinner KitWe love Mexican food here and pulled pork is one of our favourite meals, especially as both children will now eat it as long as it’s not too spicy!   So, as 16th September is Mexican Independence Day why not make some Mexican food?  I often make pulled pork in the slow cooker but this month I’ve tried the Santa Maria Pulled Pork Dinner Kit and made pulled pork in the oven after just 90 minutes.   The kit contains 8 small tortillas, a sachet of bbq sauce, a sachet of pulled pork seasoning, a sachet of red onion seasoning and a cooking bag.  You still need to buy the pork, the red onions and any salad items you want in the tortillas.  We especially loved the red onion seasoning mix on the red onions.  It makes them slightly pickled and the children were happy to eat them too so I’ll definitely be remaking onion salad this way. The pulled pork tasted great although it was saltier than if I’d made my own seasoning.  Even so, I’m always looking for meals that all our family will eat and this turned out to be one of them.    Although it still takes some time to cook in the oven, the hands on time needed is very short so it’s a good choice if you are at home but don’t have much time to prepare anything.

The meal kits are available from Morrisons and Ocado for £3.99

Santa Maria Pulled Pork Dinner Kit

Streamline Strawberry and Blackcurrant Jams

I didn’t use to eat much jam but recently I get through a lot more of it as Master Spice loves it. He seems to have American tastes as he loves peanut butter and jam on toast but I tend to stick with jam on scones or swirled into natural yoghurt.   It’s a much healthier way of flavouring yoghurt than buying ready flavoured yoghurts as they are usually packed with sugar.  Although there are some flavoured yoghurts that I can’t resist!   This month I tried Streamline blackcurrant and strawberry jams for the first time.   They have 30% less sugar than traditional jams and are full of whole pieces of fruit, in fact they have 40% more fruit than traditional jams!  You can buy them in most supermarkets RRP £1.45
Streamline blackcurrant jam and scone

Bahlsen Pick Up! Minis

I try to eat healthy snacks when I can but I cannot resist a little chocolate every now and again.  I tried these Bahlsen Pick Up! Minis and was hooked.   It was so so difficult to stop myself taking another and another and yet another!  They are just simple biscuits but with a slab of real chocolate sandwiched in the middle.   I have to say I resorted to hiding these from the children! And Mr SearchingforSpice was extremely disappointed when he found out that they had eaten the last one that he was hoping to eat!  Currently £1.29 from Waitrose.

pick up mini biscuits

Ombar Centres Raw Chocolate Bars

More chocolate!  And if you’re going to eat chocolate then it doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure with these Ombar raw cacao chocolate bars.  I tried 2 flavours: raspberry and coconut as well as coconut and vanilla.  I love chocolate and raspberries together and have to say that that was my favourite flavour! The bars are just the right size for a snack and have a delightfully creamy centre coated in raw chocolate, which contains 6 times more flavanols than other comparable chocolate as well as being 100% organic.

They are available from Ocado for £2.39

ombar centres

Ford Farm Crofter Sheep Cheese

I am a big fan of cheese.  By itself, on toast, in a salad, on pizza.   Well, there are all sorts of ways to enjoy cheese and this month I’ve tried a cheese that was new to me, Ford Farm Crofter Sheep Cheese.   It’s a British cheese made in Dorset but similar to a Spanish Manchego.  As Spain is one of my favourite food destinations I was keen to try this.  It’s quite strong and goes incredibly well with a little chorizo, tomatoes and bread.  It tastes very similar to Manchego although in texture it’s a little less hard, more like cheddar and it’s already won a gold medal at the World Cheese Awards.

You can buy it online from the Ford Farm shop for £2.80 for 200g

Crofter Sheep Cheese

Clearspring Umami Paste

This month I’ve tried two Clearspring Organic Japanese Umami Pastes, one flavoured with chilli and one with ginger.  I find it hard to put my finger on exactly what umami is but literally it means, ‘savoury deliciousness’ and these pastes are great for adding more depth of flavour to stews and stir fries and I’ve been enjoying them as a dipping sauce with vegetable sticks.  Overall they’re an easy way to add flavour to the type of quick and easy meals you might make when you don’t have much time.   A little goes a long way and they keep for 8 months once opened.

The pastes are £4.49 and are available from Clearspring, Holland & Barrett  and some supermarkets.

Clearspring umami paste


Disclosure: These products were provided for review but the opinions are my own.

September Foodie Review

September Foodie Review

couscous stuffed aubergine with tahini sauce

Couscous Stuffed Aubergine with Tahini Sauce

This couscous stuffed aubergine recipe makes a tasty vegan meal.  The aubergine is stuffed with a filling of couscous, tomatoes, chickpeas and fresh herbs and is great eaten warm and freshly roasted as well as cold the next day.   You can also eat the couscous stuffing as a salad.

couscous stuffed aubergine with tahini sauce

Welcome to another month of Secret Recipe Club, the fantastic club where we are assigned to another food blog and can read and try out their recipes and finally pick one of their best ones to remake and showcase on our own blog.

This month for Secret Recipe Club my blog assignment was Smells Like Brownies.   Well with a name like that I at first expected to find a blog full of baking and sweet treats.   Imagine my delight when I immediatley saw a really great savoury recipe.   And another .   And another.  I soon discovered that Smells Like Brownies is the absolute best kind of food blog.   There are some really really enticing looking desserts but luckily there are just as many, in fact more equally enticing healthy and savoury recipes.

You see, I love desserts but I don’t make a lot of them and what I really love to make for my family every day are simple healthy but delicious meals.     This blog definitely satisfied that craving and allowed me to feast my eyes on desserts too, even if I wasn’t going to make them!

Smells Like Brownies is written by Melissa and in many ways she is a lot like me.   She is a stay at home mum to 2 beautiful children and we both know the joys of playing with lego, doing artwork and baking with our children.

couscous stuffed aubergine with tahini sauce

I chose to make these couscous stuffed aubergines /eggplants as the picture just jumped out at me when I saw it.   I love roasted aubergines and I knew I wanted to eat this!   Some of the flesh is removed from the aubergines and they are roasted in the oven while the filling of aubergine, onion, garlic, tomatoes and chickpeas is stir fried before being mixed with the couscous and some fresh herbs and served inside the roasted aubergines.  The tahini sauce is then drizzled over the top.

Melissa’s original recipe for the couscous stuffed aubergines contains black beans  but I had some chickpeas leftover from another recipe and so it seemed a good way to  use them.    I’d happily eat any kind of bean in these!  I have to admit I made extra filling rather than discarding some of the flesh.   I love aubergines and it seemed a shame to waste any of it.   It turned out to be a wise move.   The filling is gorgeous inside the roasted aubergines but it is just as yummy when it isn’t stuffed inside anything.   You could eat is as a meal in itself or as a side dish for fish, chicken or lamb.

If you are just as tempted as I am by beautiful pictures of delicious vegetarian food then do take a look at Melissa’s blog and especially at these Red-Handed Beet Burgers and these Monster Green Pea Burgers with Roots and Greens.   Yes, I know they are both burgers but just take a look and then you’ll understand why I was tempted!

And if you are still reading and you are wondering when it’s time for dessert then look no further than Melissa’s Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Gingersnap Crust!

couscous stuffed aubergine with tahini sauce

Couscous Stuffed Aubergine with Tahini Sauce

Yield: Serves 4


  • 2 aubergines
  • 100g uncooked couscous
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 of a 400g tin of chickpeas, black beans or beans
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • For the Tahini Sauce
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 50ml water
  • Black Pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Cut each aubergine in half. Score and then scoop out the flesh from the inside leaving about 1cm left attached to the skin.
  2. Brush the aubergines with a little oil, place them cut side down on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200C.
  3. While the aubergines are roasting, cover the couscous with boiling water and leave it to soak it up.
  4. Heat a little oil in a sauce pan and cook the onion over a gentle heat until softened then add the garlic. Cook for another minute then add the tomatoes, diced aubergine flesh and chickpeas. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes until the aubergine pieces are cooked through.
  5. Make the sauce by whisking together all the sauce ingredients. I just used a fork but you could use a food processor.
  6. Stir the couscous into the vegetables mixture along with the coriander. Spoon this mixture into the aubergines halves.
  7. Serve the tahini sauce drizzled over the aubergines .
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I am linking this to #CookBlogShare hosted this week by Sneaky Veg,  to #RecipeoftheWeek hosted by A mummy Too, to Meat Free Mondays hosted by Tinned Tomatoes and to Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

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Couscous Stuffed Aubergines