peach and banana lollipops 2

Peach and Banana Ice Lollipops

Peach, banana and yoghurt ice lollies popsicles

We’ve had some hot days recently and there is nothing better on a hot day than sitting outside enjoying a homemade ice lollipop.   I’ve had my lollipop mould for a few months but until now the most adventurous thing I’ve put in it has been orange juice.

It seemed however that the Little Spices were getting a bit bored of just one flavour and in fact Little Miss Spice was beginning to prefer the bought ice pops to my simple homemade ice lollies.   Something had to be done if I was going to be able to compete.   It was time for me to become a bit more adventurous too.

Now, with these peach and banana ice lollies adventurous does not have to mean complex.   They only contain 3 ingredients but are totally delicious.   You can even make them more simple by not doing the two layers.  I’ve since just made banana lollies.

If you want the layers to be really even you can add one flavour, freeze them and then add the next flavour.    However I found that because they are made with pureed fruit, the banana and yoghurt layer just sat on top of the peach layer anyway.   Another advantage to making lollies with pureed fruit rather than juice is that they didn’t seem to drip as much as the children were eating them.

They were definitely a success and now I’ve started making homemade ice lollies with pureed fruit I’ll certainly be making more of them over the rest of the summer.

peach and banana yoghurt ice lollies popsicles

Ingredients – makes 6

1 ripe banana

2 tbsp Greek yoghurt

2 peaches

How to Make Peach and Banana Ice Lollipops

  1. Take the stones out of the peaches and puree them.   I used a stick blender.

  2. Spoon the puree into the lollipop moulds, filling them about half-way.

  3. Mash the banana with a fork and then stir in the yoghurt.  Spoon this on top of the peach.

  4. Put in the freezer until completely frozen.

  5. To take the lollipops out of the mould, run the hot tap over the plastic mould for a short time.

I am linking these ice lollies to Kavey Eats’ Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge.   The theme this month is ice lollies.   I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

Bloggers scream for ice creamTasty TuesdaysRecipe of the wEek

 

crispy green bean fries

Green Bean Fries

Green bean fries - deep fried green beans in a spicy batter

Vegetables are supposed to be healthy right?  Green beans are definitely healthy.   So how about green bean fries?   Well, it may not be the healthiest way to eat green beans, possibly even one of the least healthy, but I promise you it is one the tastiest ways to eat your greens.

These green bean fries are actually my Secret Recipe Club pick for July.  My assignment was to pick a recipe to make from the Pintertest Kitchen.  The Pintertest Kitchen is a blog written by Allison, her sister Jessica and mother Sharon.  The idea is that they test out recipes found online, mainly through Pinterest and then let us know if they really are worth making. This recipe was one of Allison’s and actually resulted from a mistake when following another recipe.   The result was so good that that’s the way it’s stayed.  Well, almost.

I had to make a few changes as I couldn’t find any cornmeal so decided to use chickpea flour instead.  After all, it goes well in onion bhajis.   Of course, I could have chosen another recipe but there was something about green bean fries that meant I just had to make them.

The cayenne pepper in the batter makes the fries really delicious and although they didn’t turn out to be quite as crispy as I wanted (maybe I put too many in the pan at once or the oil wasn’t quite hot enough), they were really tasty and my husband and I both ate twice as many green beans as we normally would – there were none leftover!

So, if you’re looking for another blog to read and like the sound of these green beans as well as some of the other tempting recipes such as pizza pinwheels and crisp and creamy fillo chicken  packets then do take a look at the Pintertest Kitchen.

crispy green bean fries

Ingredients – serves 2 (but could stretch to 3)

Oil for deep frying

220g green beans

100ml buttermilk

70g chickpea (gram) flour

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

How to Make Green Bean Fries

  1. Heat the oil as it needs to be really hot before you start cooking.

  2. Mix together the buttermilk, chickpea flour and cayenne pepper to make a paste.  Drop a little into the oil to check the oil is hot enough.  It should rise to the top and sizzle.

  3. Dip the green beans into the batter and then drop them in the hot oil.  Cook them in batches.

  4. Take the beans out once they have browned.  Put them on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil before eating them while they are still hot.

chimichurri peas

Chimichurri Peas

Chimichurri Peas

We were having steak for dinner and I made a quick chimichurri sauce to serve with the steaks.   I wasn’t intending to blog about it.    After all, I’ve made a chimichurri sauce before, although quite a different one using coriander.

This time it was a more traditional chimichurri sauce using parsley and oregano.    As usual I made a little too much and surprisingly it didn’t all get eaten up, despite how good it was, even just eaten by itself off the spoon.

The next day I had some peas leftover as well and I stirred the chimichurri sauce into the peas.   It went together perfectly.   The sharpness of the vinegar with the freshness of the parsley really complements the sweetness of the peas.

Of course, you could serve the sauce with steak as I did the first night we had it.    You could also bulk it out and make it into a main meal salad by adding some halloumi and maybe some salad leaves too.   Some crusty bread to mop up all the sauce would also go well.   I have to admit,  I didn’t have any bread and was forced to lick the plate.

Ingredients 

Cooked peas

30g parsley

2 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp dried oregano

How to Make Chimichurri Peas 

1.Put all the ingredients except the peas into a food processor.   Blend until you get a sauce.   Add a little extra oil or vinegar to get the right consistency.

2.Mix the chimichurri sauce into the peas.   Add as much or as little as you like.

I am linking this to Eat Your Greens hosted by Allotment 2 Kitchen, Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and #RecipeoftheWeek at A Mummy Too.

Eat Your GreensTasty TuesdaysRecipe of the wEek

 

Buttermilk, banana and blueberry soup or smoothie

Banana and Blueberry Soup

Banana and Blueberry Soup or smoothie with buttermilk

This banana and blueberry soup must be one of the quickest recipes I’ve ever made.   Quick in 2 senses: As long as the banana has been frozen in advance, it only takes a minute to prepare.  I also had no plans to make this at the beginning of the day.   I had ripe bananas and buttermilk that needed to be used up so I was thinking of making a banana bread.

However, even an easy banana bread takes a little effort so when I came across the ‘Summer’ theme for this month’s Super Soup hosted by Jo’s Kitchen I was immediately inspired by her rhubarb and strawberry soup and decided to have a go at my own fruit soup.

In went the ripe bananas and the buttermilk and as I also had a lot of blueberries at home, I decided they would go well too.   And they did.

But I couldn’t help wonder why call it a soup and not a smoothie?   Well, I tried to search for the answer wondering if a fruit soup needed the fruit, or at least some of it, to be cooked in some way first but it actually seems that the difference is as simple as how it is served.   Basically, a smoothie comes in a glass and a soup is served in a bowl.    There may also be a few pieces of unblended fruit in a soup that would be difficult to drink.

Well, after looking into the differences I decided that Master Spice could drink some as a smoothie and so I put some in a Nom Nom Kids Reusable Food Pouch and it was clearly a hit.   I may be forced to make more soups/smoothies over the next few weeks!

Banana and blueberry soup or smoothie

Ingredients – Serves 2-4

2 bananas

100g blueberries

200ml buttermilk

How to Make Banana and Blueberry Soup

  1. Slice the banana and freeze for a couple of hours.
  2. Put the banana, blueberries and buttermilk in a blender and blend to make a thick liquid.
  3. Serve in bowls with a few extra blueberries to garnish.   If you’re not serving it immediately, keep it chilled in the fridge.

Super Soup

 

 

 

 

 

Vonshef kitchen scales

Review: VonShef Kitchen Scales

Vonshef kitchen scalesEveryone needs some kitchen scales occasionally and I was recently sent this VonShef Slim Glass Black Digital Kitchen Scale to review.  My first impression was that it is very smart looking.   I loved the simple black style.

The VonShef kitchen scales are also very easy to use with just 2 buttons.   One button is to switch between the 4 different modes of measurement – kilos and grams, pounds and ounces, millilitres and fluid ounces.   The other button is to switch the scales on and can also be used to reset them to zero.  So for example you can put a bowl on the scales, measure in some flour then reset it and measure in something else.  If you hold this button down, it switches off the scales rather than just resetting them.

The surface of the scales is made from durable toughened glass so they are very easy to just wipe clean and because they are thin they store easily in a kitchen drawer without taking up much space.

And is there anything wrong with them?   Well, not that I could see.   If you’re looking for a sleek, stylish and affordable digital kitchen scales then I’d be happy to recommend them.

Disclosure: I was sent the scales to review but the opinions are my own.

cauliflower leaf stir fry (2)

Cauliflower Leaf and Chicken Stir Fry

cauliflower leaf and chicken stir fry

Are you guilty of buying a cauliflower and then throwing away half of it when you take off the outside leaves?  Have you even thought to eat the cauliflower leaves?

Well, until now I’d just thrown them away without thinking.   I don’t even know why I suddenly wondered about whether they would be tasty too. But for some reason I did and that’s how I ended up with this quick and easy meal.

Cabbage is quite a common stir fry ingredient and the cauliflower leaves are very similar when cooked in this way.   Cooking mellows the strong flavour a little and adding a strong sauce complements it well.    It may look like I haven’t added much black bean sauce but the brand I used is very strong and salty and after adding too much when I last used it, I am using it frugally now.   You may well need to add more if using a different brand.

If you’re wondering about other ways to eat cauliflower leaves, they have quite a strong cabbagy flavour and I liked them in a salad too.  However, my husband wasn’t keen and claimed I had cauliflower breath afterwards so although they are tasty, you may not want to eat them on a date night.

Ingredients – Serves 2

200g chicken, sliced into strips

Small piece of ginger, diced

1 tsp black bean sauce (I used a very strong sauce but you may need a little more depending on the brand you use)

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

About 4 large cauliflower leaves, sliced into thin strips

1 bok choi

5 mushrooms, sliced

How to Make Cauliflower Leaf and Chicken Stir Fry

  1. Put a little oil in a wok and when it is hot, add the chicken.   Stir fry until it is almost cooked and then add the ginger, vinegar and black bean sauce.

  2. Stir well and then add the vegetables plus a dash of water if the pan is too dry.    Cook for another couple of minutes until everything is cooked through.  Serve with rice.

I am linking this to Extra Veg, hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and on alternate months by Utterly Scrummy.  I am also linking to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month by Jen’s Food and run by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All.

Extra Veg

Credit Crunch Munch

 

 

 

 

 

Chimasu snack box

Review: Chimasu Snack Box

chimasu box

Recently I was sent a Chimasu Snack box to review.  Chimasu provides monthly boxes filled with 12-15 different sweet and savoury snacks from Asian countries.  Most of the contents are things many people would struggle to buy unless they lived near enough to an oriental supermarket.   Another great thing is that once you have subscribed and given your preferences, your box is personally picked for you so you don’t end up with things you don’t like.

I really enjoyed trying the contents of the box and amazingly there was nothing I tried that I didn’t like.   The only thing I didn’t try was the tea as I’m just not a tea drinker.  I love nuts and many of the snacks were nutty so if you’re like me, you’ll be happy.  However, it may not be suitable for anyone with allergies or a special diet.

Prices start at £14 per month and you can also get £5 off your first subscription.   Below you can see all the snacks I received in my sample box.

Instant Noodle King Wonton Soup Flavoured 

IMG_6748These Wonton Soup flavoured noodles were really tasty and surprisingly filling.   I loved the amount of dehydrated vegetable bits in them and they had a lovely shrimpy taste.

 

 

 

Japanese Rice Cracker Mix

IMG_6749

I found all the snacks in this little Japanese Rice Cracker Mix bag really tasty.  They’re quite fishy and peanuty and probably not for the slightly squeemish as they do contain little dried fish which might put some people off.

 

 

Hokkaido Rice Cracker Mix
IMG_6752

These Hokkaido rice crackers had the same flavours as the Japanese rice cracker mix.  Very nutty and fishy but without the actual dried fish.

 

 

 

 Boy Bawang Cornick Adobo Flavour

IMG_6754I loved the picture on the front of these Boy Bawang Cornick adobo flavour corn nuts from the Philipines. It made them look like they’d be full of flavour and they were.  A lovely crunchy alternative to a packet of crisps.

 

 

 

 White Rabbit Candy

IMG_6757These chewy White Rabbit sweets have a creamy vanilla flavour and are very morish.

 

 

 

 

 

Meiji Yan Yan 

IMG_6758These Yan Yan snack pots come with a creamy chocolate dipping sauce in one side of the pot and long thin biscuits at the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edo Gummy Candy

IMG_6762If you like sweets to taste of real fruit then you’ll like these Edo apple and peach gummy candies.   They’re a bit less sweet than a lot of jelly-like sweets and although I don’t eat a lot of these type of sweets. I really liked them.

 

 

Mama Shrimp Creamy Tom Yum Flavour

IMG_6765
I love noodles and the problem with some instant noodles is they just don’t have enough flavour.   That could not be said of these Mama Tom Yum instant noodles.  They’re a little creamy, slightly sour and full of oriental flavour.

 

 

Pu-Erh Tea
IMG_6766
If you like tea then there was also a sample of this Pu-Erh tea.  As I’m more of a coffee drinker, I’m afraid I can’t give a personal opinion.

 

 

 

 

Lotte Pepero Almond and Chocolate Biscuit Sticks

IMG_6771
These thin biscuit sticks are covered in a crunchy milk chocolate and almond coating.  Delicious if you like chocolate and nuts.

 

 

 

 

 

Cho Fu Peanut Cake
IMG_6774
This Cho Fu Peanut Cake was one of my favourite items in the box.  A sweet peanut brittle that was packed full of peanuts held together by a crunchy caramel.

 

Meiji Hello Panda Strawberry  Biscuits
IMG_6776
These cute Japanese Hello Panda Biscuits were also one of our top snacks in the box.  Each light bite-sized biscuit is filled with a sweet creamy strawberry filling.

 

 

 

 

 

Chun Guang Coconut Candy

IMG_6780

l really liked these little Chun Guang Coconut Candy sweets.   They are a hard creamy coconut flavoured toffee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about Chimasu then take a look at their website here.

Disclosure: I was sent a free Chimasu box to review.   However, the opinions here are my own.

apple pie

Recipe Redux: Apple Pie with Spiced Wholemeal Pastry

apple pie with spiced wholemeal pastry

This month the theme for Recipe Redux is Pie Love i.e. to give a healthy twist to a sweet or savoury pie.   Well, to me pies are real comfort food and remind me of growing up as my mum used to make lots of pies both sweet and savoury.  We would have meat pies and chicken pies followed by apple, rhubarb or plum pies.   My mum makes very good pies and luckily for her, my dad loves his pies.  Or should I say her pies.

Unfortunately my husband is not a big fan of pastry so I rarely actually make a pie myself. I’m more likely to get my pie fix when I’m out and about, and of course bought pies are never as good as homemade ones.    And rarely even remotely healthy.

So, starved of homemade pies for a long long time, I was pleased to have a real reason to actually make one for this challenge.   Because I so rarely make pies, what could be more appropriate than  having a go at recreating my mum’s apple pie?   You see, although pies have a reputation for being unhealthy, as far as pies go, my mum’s is on the healthier side. She always makes pastry out of wholemeal flour and I love the crumbliness that that gives the pie.   It may not look so attractive and is difficult to work with but it just melts in your mouth, as well as giving the pastry a slight nutty flavour, which is helped here by the mixed spice as well.   The mixed spice is optional and is very subtle.  You could just add it to the apple instead for a more spiced pie.

I can’t claim a pie is healthy, but this pie is slightly healthier than some pies in that the fruit isn’t encased in pastry. There’s a layer of fruit and then a layer of pastry.   So much easier and also no need to worry about a soggy bottom!

Finally the fruit.  I used eating apples so didn’t need to add any sugar to sweeten them, although I did add a squeeze of agave nectar for just a little extra sweetness and taste.

As you can see, I ate this pie with ice cream.   I could have had it with natural yoghurt but that would have defeated the purpose a little.   Why recreate your mum’s pie and then not serve it the way she would have done?   It had to be served warm with vanilla ice cream.   Nothing else would have done.  I’m hope you understand.

apple pie with spiced wholemeal pastry

Ingredients – Serves 4

4 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 tbsp agave nectar

200g wholemeal flour

100g butter

1/2 tsp ground mixed spice

A little icy water

How to Make Apple Pie with Spiced Wholemeal Pastry

  1. Put the apples in a saucepan with a little water and simmer until the apples are soft but still hold their shape.   Don’t let them boil dry.   Add a splash of water if it looks like the pan might get too dry.

  2. Put the apples in the bottom of a greased pie dish.

  3. Make the pastry by putting the flour and butter in a food processor and blending until it looks like breadcrumbs.

  4. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface and add a couple of tablespoons of cold water from the fridge.    Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a ball of pastry.

  5. Wrap the pastry in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.

  6. Put a little flour on the work surface and roll the pastry out until it’s the right size and shape to cover the pie.   The pastry will be very crumbly and difficult to work with without it breaking up but this is also what gives it its light crumbly texture after it’s cooked.

  7. Make a couple of cuts on top of the pie so the steam can escape and then bake the pie in the oven at 180C for about 20-25 minutes.

  8. Let the pie cool for about 15 minutes before serving with ice cream.  Or yoghurt.

To see what other #RecipeRedux participants have made, click on the link below:

This is also my #BakeoftheWeek at Casa Costello.

Bake of the Week

 

vegetarian Mexican bean salad in a kilner jar

Mexican Salad in a Kilner Jar

Mexican kilner jar saladI don’t consider making food look good to be one of my strengths.   Making tasty food is more (I hope) where my talents lie.   However, when I was asked if I would like to take part in a competition to present something tasty in a Kilner jar, I was tempted.  Kilner jars have become incredibly popular recently, not just for canning and preserving food, but for presenting sweets, soups, drinks, desserts, salads and probably many more things.

Initially I was considering making a trifle.  I thought I could make it look good in the jar, but I very much doubted I’d be able to get it out of the jar and still make it look good.  I soon moved on from that idea.   At least for now.

I then started thinking about salads and decided on this colourful Mexican bean salad.  It may not be the most original thing to fill the jar with, but it was very very tasty.

You can make this Mexican salad in advance and then turn it out of the jar to serve.  I used a 1 litre jar and it was big enough to serve 2 people generously but could serve up to 4 as a side salad.   It’s important to add the dressing to the jar first and then put crunchy vegetables in first that won’t go soggy in the dressing.    The lettuce and herbs should go at the top so they don’t get crushed.  Before serving you can turn the jar upside down for 5 minutes so the dressing runs down and coats all the vegetables.

If you’d like a more fiery salad, add a little sliced chilli pepper or some jalapenos to the jar as well as the hot sauce.   Or if you’d like a non-vegetarian salad, a little roasted chicken would go well too.

If you’d like more ideas, foodie or otherwise, for what to do with a Kilner jar, then have a look at Think Money’s Jam J-Art site.

vegetarian Mexican bean salad in a kilner jar

Ingredients – Serves 2-4

Juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp hot sauce

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/4 cucumber, diced

2 tbsp sweetcorn

1/2 small red onion, sliced

1/2 avocado, cut into large chunks

1 large tomato, diced

2 tbsp red kidney beans

2 tbsp  coriander (cilantro), chopped

2 tbsp iceberg lettuce, sliced

How to Make Mexican Kilner Jar Salad

  1. Layer all the ingredients into the jar in the order given above.

  2. Before serving, turn the jar upside down so the dressing covers all the ingredients.

  3. Turn the salad out onto a plate.

vegetarian Mexican bean salad in a kilner jar

 

lamb stir fry with chapatis

‘Lamb. Tasty Easy Fun’ Campaign Launch and my Tasty Easy Lamb Stir Fry Recipe

Cyrus Todiwala demontrating how to cook lamb at Lamb Tasty Easy Fun campaign launch

Last week I was invited to the launch of a new campaign:  Lamb. Tasty Easy Fun at Cafe Spice Namaste in London.   Not only did I learn a lot about lamb, but I ate some of the tastiest lamb dishes I’d eaten in a long time.  Thank you Cyrus Todiwala for some amazing food.IMG_6872

The campaign aims to encourage younger consumers in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany and Denmark to consider lamb as an everyday meat to buy and cook with regularly.   It doesn’t only have to be a roasted lamb joint with mint sauce on a Sunday.   It is a versatile meat that can be enjoyed at any time and cooked in many IMG_6875different ways.  Of course it can be slow cooked but you can also cook a quick steak, cutlets or a stir fry too. And of course lamb mince is great for burgers, mince and koftas.

As we enjoyed canapes Jane Ritchie-Smith from AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) introduced the campaign, highlighting the quality and sustainability of lamb.   Unlike some animals, sheep do not need quality land to survive on.  They often thrive on hillsides and the type of land that would be unsuitable for any other type of agriculture or farming and therefore make an important contribution to the economy in rural areas.

IMG_6882

John Kirkpatrick, a sheep producer then talked briefly about sheep farming, followed by Cyrus Todiwala demonstrating some lamb dishes and talking about the way lamb is used in his restaurant, Cafe Spice Namaste.  As he likes to support smaller independent sheep producers and I grew up on a farm with sheep, I was impressed by his approach.

 

As I mentioned above, I was especially impressed by the food. There were a variety of lamb canapes – Kadduk Sheek Kavaabs, barbecue lamb breast fingers and diced lamb with chilli, garlic and cinnamon.  I was feeling well fed before the meal even started!IMG_6885

There was then a starter of lamb cutlets and liver and IMG_6888sweetbread samosas.   I don’t often eat offal but I could have eaten a lot of those samosas!   The next course was a lamb burger stuffed with chilli, cheese and garlic.   The final lamb course was a lamb curry with the most amazing coconut stir fried green vegetables and lamb rice. Finally at the end there was one lamb free course – kulfi and stewed figs.IMG_6901

 

After all that lamb you might think I’d never want to eat lamb again in my life  but I came away inspired to add my own twist on some of my favourite dishes of the evening.  I make a lot of stir fries but usually with chicken.  I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a lamb stir fry until now but as the message of the campaign was that lamb can be a great meat to cook with everyday at home, I felt it was only fitting I created my own quick easy and tasty lamb dish.   I love lamb with spices but if you’re not confident blending lots of spices together you can make something just as delicious using a spice blend or just 2 or 3 individual spices.   This lamb stir fry simply uses garam masala, a common Indian spice blend plus a little cayenne pepper for extra heat.  It’s super quick to prepare, especially if you miss out step 1, and really tasty too.   I’ll definitely be making it again.

Lamb stir fry

Ingredients – Serves 2

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

Small knob of fresh ginger, finely diced

1 red chilli pepper, sliced

2 lamb steaks

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

How to Make Lamb stir fry

  1. If you have time, put the lamb in the freezer for 30 minutes before beginning the cooking.  This will make it easier to cut into strips.

  2. Slice the lamb into strips.   Remove any hard bits of fat.

  3. Heat a little oil in a wok or frying pan.   Add the garlic, ginger and chilli pepper.  Stir fry for 1-2 minutes.

  4. Add the lamb, garam masala and cayenne pepper.   Stir fry for a couple of minutes until the lamb is just cooked.   Stir in the chopped fresh herbs at the end.

  5. Serve the stir fry wrapped in chapatis with lettuce, tomato and cucumber.

lamb stir fry with chapatis

You can find out more about the campaign at www.tastyeasylamb.co.uk and also follow them on Twitter @TastyEasyLamb or Facebook Tasty Easy Lamb