Slow cooker Beef Bourguignon

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

This slow cooker beef bourguignon may not be quite as rich as a bourguignon cooked slowly on the stove but it still has bags of flavour and is so convenient.   It’s just perfect for easy midweek meals when everyone is back at school or work.

Slow cooker Beef Bourguignon

This month has 5 Mondays and so welcome to a bonus Secret Recipe Club assignment.    This is actually the first bonus challenge I’ve taken part in but the theme was just perfect for me. The challenge was to find a recipe just right for making once the holidays come to an end and everyone is back at school or work, the type of recipe you can make quickly or with very little effort.  Well, that is exactly the type of recipe I love.  I could easily have made double of this so it would have lasted for more meals, making it a perfect #CookOnceEatTwice choice as well.

The blog I was assigned to was Life on Food, written by Emily.   Emily has a gorgeous little boy aged 1 and so she really appreciates meals that can be made quickly and with minimum effort so this theme certainly suits her too!

Slow cooker Beef Bourguignon

When I first looked at Emily’s blog I went straight to the slow cooker section.   I love my slow cooker and for me it really makes life easier in the evening when trying to juggle putting the children to bed, going out for a run and managing to get dinner ready for me and Mr SearchingforSpice before it gets too late!  Emily has a great selection of exactly the type of slow cooked meals I would choose to eat.   There was Slow Cooker Curry Chicken Wings, Crock Pot Curry Chicken and Slow Cooker Asian Beef Short Ribs and even Crock Pot Baked Apples for dessert!  I was spoilt for choice just in the slow cooker section!

I decided on the slow cooker beef bourguignon in the end as we all love beef bourguignon. What makes it so good is the little smoked bacon lardons as they add so much flavour to the sauce along with the red wine, stock and herbs.  It’s a real comfort meal and one that I’ll definitely want to make again once the weather turns colder too.

This is my second recipe for beef bourguignon.  This earlier recipe contains a lot more wine and is cooked in the oven instead of in the slow cooker.  After all, it’s certainly worth having more than one recipe for a classic such as this!

Slow cooker Beef Bourguignon

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 200g smoked bacon lardons
  • 450g stewing steak
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 200g mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into batons
  • 75ml red wine
  • 75ml beef stock
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1tsp parsley
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Put the bacon lardons in a saucepan and cook until browned. Empty them into the bottom of the slow cooker then brown the beef in the same pan.
  2. Empty the beef into the slow cooker and add all the other ingredients.
  3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  4. Serve with baked or mashed potato or crusty bread.
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Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon
Mexican Scrambled eggs

Mexican Scrambled Eggs

These tasty Mexican scrambled eggs make a great healthy breakfast or light lunch.
Mexican Scrambled Eggs

A few years ago I went on holiday to Mexico.   I came back inspired to cook lots of Mexican dishes and I have enjoyed cooking Mexican recipes ever since.  I’ve tried stews, salads and of course huevos rancheros.

After unwittingly putting a whole habanero chilli pepper in my  mouth during one unforgettable breakfast,  I have to say that the breakfasts are the most memorable dishes from that particular holiday.

When I heard that the theme for this month’s Recipe Redux was a vacation inspired recipe, I decided it was time to revisit Mexican breakfasts and make a healthy and delicious Mexican scrambled eggs.

Mexican Scrambled Eggs

I used lots of spring onions and coriander to give the eggs a healthy fresh green vibe.  In case that wasn’t enough green, I also wilted a few handfuls of spinach to serve under the scrambled eggs. To give a bit of a kick I added some red chilli pepper, although not a traditional Mexican one – I am staying well away from habaneros at breakfast time these days!

I also grilled some halved cherry tomatoes and added them to the scrambled egg right at the end as I didn’t want the tomatoes to break up and make the dish watery.  By grilling them they were beautifully caramelised and gave a lovely juicy bite every time I ate one.

I just wish I had the motivation to make Mexican scrambled eggs every day for breakfast.   My normal breakfast is a couple of slices of toast with a little cream cheese, coffee and some fruit if I am not in too much of a rush.    This breakfast is definitely higher in protein and much more filling than just toast.   It’s also good to feel you’ve already eaten a portion of vegetables before the day has hardly started!

Mexican Scrambled Eggs

Mexican Scrambled Eggs

Yield: Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • A dash of milk
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red chilli pepper, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaf
  • 20g hard cheese (I used Cheddar)
  • 3 large handfuls of spinach
  • Black pepper
  • 1 slice of toast

Instructions

  1. Put the cherry tomatoes under the grill.
  2. Put the spinach in a saucepan with a little water and cook until it begins to wilt then take it off the heat and drain it in a colander.
  3. Add a little milk to the eggs and beat lightly with a fork.
  4. Put a little oil in a saucepan and cook half of the spring onion and most of the chilli pepper for about a minute then add the egg mixture.
  5. Stir the egg as it cooks. When it is nearly ready, stir in the rest of the spring onion and most of the coriander.
  6. When the egg is ready, take it off the heat and stir in the cheese and black pepper.
  7. Spray a little oil onto the toast. Push any remaining water out of the spinach and put it on top of the toast. Top that with the scrambled egg, cherry tomatoes and the remaining coriander and chilli slices.
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I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays at Tinned Tomatoes.

Meat Free Mondays

Mexican Scrambled Eggs
Caribbean Beef Patties for Caribbean Food Week

Caribbean Beef Patties for Caribbean Food Week 2016

It’s time to celebrate Caribbean Food Week 2016 and what better way than to make some make some delicious Caribbean inspired recipes like my Caribbean beef patties, marinated chicken legs or spicy skinny curly fries.

caribbean pasties 1 (2)

In the UK Caribbean Food Week runs from 22nd to 29 August and so what better time is there to cook up some spicy Caribbean recipes?  And if you’re in or near London then why not head down to Brixton for the Caribbean Food Week Festival at Windrush Square on 26th-27th August? There’ll be loads of amazing Caribbean street food as well as live cookery demonstrations, music and other entertainment.

I won’t be able to get to the festival but  I’ve been lucky enough to receive a hamper full of lovely Caribbean products  from Grace Foods in order to create my own tasty street food party at home.

Caribbean Food Week Hamper 2016

I’ve created three easy recipes that would work just as well served from a street food stall as they would if you prepared them for a simple meal at home.

The first recipe is for Caribbean beef patties.   These are simply minced beef and potato pasties but with the addition of some hot pepper sauce in the filling.   You can make them as hot as you like and a little extra hot sauce on the side when you serve them just gives them an extra kick!

I have to admit that I allowed Little Miss Spice and Master Spice to help make the pasties and so they are a little rough around the edges and in the chaos of cooking with the children I forgot to glaze them.   Even so, they tasted great and make great street food! The recipe is at the end of this post.

Caribbean beef patties

The next  dish was the Jerk marinated chicken drumsticks.    They are so simple to prepare and cook that you don’t need a recipe.  I just marinated the chicken legs overnight in a couple of tablespoons of Dunn’s River Jamaican Jerk Seasoning.   The next day I baked them in the oven till they were cooked through (about 35 minutes).    If you can cook them on the barbecue they’d be fabulous too!

I must warn you though, these chicken legs were very very hot.   I think the marinade is almost completely made up of chilli peppers.  The little bits of charred marinade on the skin of the chicken are only for those who really can take the heat!

Jerk marinated chicken drumsticks - Caribbean Food Week 2016

If you want a slightly less fiery chicken dish then use the marinade a little more sparingly and mix it with some yoghurt.   You could also scrape the excess marinade off the drumsticks before cooking them.

The final dish was almost as simple as the chicken drumsticks and was a clear favourite with both Little Miss Spice and Master Spice.   It was these spicy skinny fries made from sweet potato and normal potato.

Skinny spicy fries

I got my spiraliser out to make the  fries  and so they are long and curly like spaghetti.   I then added a heaped teaspoon of Dunn’s River Hot and Spicy Jerk Chicken Mix and tossed it with the fries before deep frying them.

So if you’ve got an unused spiraliser  hidden in a cupboard, this really should be the recipe to make you get it out.  I know it’s not the healthiest spiralised recipe but they really are so so worth it! I don’t very often deep fry anything but these spicy skinny fries are certainly going to get made again.   And again.

skinny spicy fries

Caribbean Beef Patties

Yield: Makes 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 potato, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1-2 tsp hot pepper sauce (Use more for really hot patties!)
  • For the shortcrust pastry
  • 450g plain flour (I used a mix of 100g wholemeal and 350g white flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200g butter, diced

Instructions

  1. Cook the onion gently in a little oil until softened. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a minute.
  2. Add the mince and cook, breaking it up until it is browned on the outside.
  3. Add the turmeric, the potatoes, the tomato puree and 200ml of water.
  4. Simmer for 15-20 minutes till the potatoes are cooked through and the sauce has reduced.
  5. Stir in the hot sauce. Add a little at a time and keep tasting so you get the level of heat just right.
  6. Leave to cool.
  7. Make the pastry. Mix the salt into the flour then either rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips or use a food processor. Stop as soon as it is rubbed in and the mixture is like breadcrumbs.
  8. Add a couple of tablespoons of cold water and knead the mixture together to form a dough. Add a little extra water if it is too dry.
  9. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and put in the fridge for half an hour.
  10. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each one out into a circle. Put a tablespoon of the mince mixture on one side and fold the other side over to form a parcel. Press the 2 sides together.
  11. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200C.

Notes

I had quite a bit of leftover mince so you could easily make more patties by increasing the quantities of pastry. For a more attractive finish, brush the uncooked patties with a little beaten egg or milk before baking them.

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To find out more and join in with Caribbean Food Week 2016 then take a look at Caribbeanfoodweek on Facebook or Twitter @Caribbeanfoodwk #CFW2016

We ate these Caribbean beef patties the next day too so I am going to share them with my own #CookOnceEatTwice event as well as linking to the #TheFoodCalendar at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen, #CookBlogShare at Sneaky Veg and Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

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Caribbean Beef Patties
Banana fudge ice cream

Banana Fudge Ice Cream

This creamy homemade banana fudge ice cream is so good you’ll want to keep the recipe!

banana fudge ice cream

Last summer I made the best banana fudge ice cream ever.   It was simply a banana ice cream studded with little pieces of chocolate covered fudge.   It was so easy to make I could make it for guests and only needed to spend a few minutes getting it started in the ice cream maker and then 20 minutes later it was ready to eat.  I made it more than once too.

Of course I wanted to make it again this summer.   I definitely wanted to eat it again and so I did what any food blogger does when wanting to remake a favourite recipe.   I searched my blog for the recipe.

I knew I’d made it a couple of times so I was confident it would be there.   It wasn’t.   I wondered if maybe I’d noted the recipe down in my drafts folder but it wasn’t there either.  What could I do?  Well, I knew I had to make that ice cream again.   That banana fudge ice cream was so delicious that it could not just disappear like that!

I had to try to remember the recipe.   Well, luckily I knew the main ingredients were bananas, cream and chocolate covered fudge bars.  The quantities?   Well,  I tend to be quite flexible with quantities anyway.

Banana fudge ice cream

The important thing is to keep tasting the mixture as you’re blending the ingredients together.   If it tastes amazing  before it’s frozen, it should taste good when frozen too.  In fact, it’s hard to give exact quantities as the bananas can vary in sweetness.   For ice cream you can get away with using slightly overripe bananas and of course, the riper they are, the sweeter they’ll make the ice cream.   I still needed a little bit of icing sugar to get the right level of sweetness but you may find you’ll need more or less depending on taste.

You could easily adapt this recipe.   I’ve called it banana fudge ice cream as one of the main ingredients is chopped up fudge bars (I used Cadburys Fudge) but  you could make a completely different ice cream just by using a different chocolate or candy bar.   Personally I quite fancy adding a crumbled up chocolate Flake another time!

I used my ice cream maker to make this ice cream as it’s so easy to use but if you haven’t got an ice cream maker then don’t let that stop you, although I haven’t tried them, you can read here about 6 ways to make ice cream that don’t involve going out and buying a machine!

Banana fudge ice cream

Doesn’t it look tasty in these  Ravenhead sundae dishes?

Banana Fudge Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas (they weighed 210g after being peeled)
  • 300ml double cream
  • 110ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)
  • 60g icing sugar (feel free to use more or less depending on how sweet you want the ice cream to be)
  • 100g chocolate covered fudge, chopped
  • Extra sticks of fudge to serve (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mash the bananas thoroughly with a fork until you have a puree.
  2. Add the cream, milk and icing sugar and mix together with the fork.
  3. Turn the ice cream maker on and pour the banana cream mixture into it.
  4. After about 10 minutes when the ice cream is beginning to set, add the chunks of fudge and let the ice cream maker continue beating for another 5 minutes.
  5. Scoop the ice cream into a container and put in the freezer until you're ready to eat it.
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If you’re looking for more easy ice cream maker recipes then do take a look at my recipes for gooseberry ice cream,  raspberry and white chocolate ice cream or  even kiwi fruit ice cream.

I am linking this to #CookBlogShare hosted this week for the first time by Eb at Easy Peasy Foodie.  I am also linking to #RecipeoftheWeek at A Mummy Too and Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.

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Banana Fudge Ice Cream
Spinach Citrus Salad

Spinach Citrus Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette

This healthy spinach citrus salad combines oranges and grapefruit  with a punchy grapefruit and mustard dressing  and is definitely one of the most refreshing salads I’ve eaten for a long while.

spinach citrus salad

I was so pleased to find this salad on From Gate to Plate when I was browsing through looking for my Secret Recipe Club pick.   I’d had a few busy weeks and I was feeling like I needed to make some healthy choices and this was exactly what I was looking for.

The salad looks quite simple and it is.   But, it is packed full of flavour.  The spinach leaves go really well with the orange and grapefruit segments and the grapefruit dressing is a revelation!

spinach citrus salad

I often add lemon or lime juice to salad dressings but I’d never thought to make a grapefruit vinaigrette. Maybe that’s because I just don’t buy grapefruits as often.   That really should change as I think this dressing would go so well on all sorts of salads.   You can clearly taste the grapefruit but because of the agave nectar it’s not too sharp at all and even the mustard isn’t too strong, despite the fact that I used English mustard rather than Dijon.

As I said earlier, I found this recipe on From Gate to Plate but I have adapted it just a little.  I used agave nectar in place of honey and I’m sorry to say I completely forgot to add the red onion.  I’m sure it would be lovely with just a little onion but it was gorgeous without it too.

spinach citrus salad

From Gate to Plate is written by Lauren, a 20 something country girl with a passion for cooking, farming and animals.  She lives and works on a farm and loves the outdoor life.   The photography on her blog is absolutely beautiful and I was so tempted by the gorgeous pictures!  If you’re not already tempted by my pictures of this spinach citrus salad then just pop over to her blog and I can assure you that you will be!

Some of Lauren’s recipes that really made me salivate were her Spiked Skillet Peach Pecan and Blueberry Crumble, spiked with a  little bourbon I think this dessert would be perfect on a slightly cooler day.  I always look at the salads and I love the sound of this Pickled Pasta with Cucumber and Tomatoes.  It would be great for easy summer meals and picnics and I always love recipes that can be prepared in advance too. My children love vinegar and I’m wondering if it would be a way to get Little Miss Spice to eat pasta.

This may not at first look like the most child-friendly recipe but Little Miss Spice loved the citrus fruit and even ate a few leaves of spinach along with the dressing.

spinach citrus salad

Spinach Citrus Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Large bag of spinach, washed
  • 1 grapefruit, cut into segments
  • 1 orange, cut into segments
  • For the Dressing
  • Juice of 1/2 a grapefruit
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp English mustard or a little more of another variety of mustard
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Divide the spinach between 4 plates and top with the fruit segments
  2. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together
  3. Serve the dressing on the salad.

Notes

This salad is lovely with fish, chicken or halloumi. If you are making this salad in advance, don't put the dressing on until ready to serve as it will make the spinach go soggy.

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spinach citrus salad

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I am linking to #CookBlogShare hosted by Mandy at Sneaky Veg, Brilliant Blog Posts hosted by Vicky at Honest Mum and Eat Your Greens hosted this month by The Veg Hog and on alternate months by A Seasonal Veg Table.  As spinach is a great vegetable to grow in allotments and is season right now too, I am linking to #TheFoodCalendar at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen.

Cook Blog Sharebrilliant blog postsEat Your Greensthefoodcalendar-august-2016

Spinach Citrus Salad
courgetti salad

Courgetti Salad

This simple healthy courgetti salad flavoured with lemon juice and baharat spice mix makes  a perfect bbq side dish or side salad for an easy weeknight meal.

courgetti salad

This month The Recipe Redux challenged us to ‘get your fruits and veggies in shape‘.   After all, this time of year really is the best for enjoying freshly picked fruits and vegetables.  There’s so much in season at the moment and everything tastes so much better than in the middle of winter.

You don’t even need to put in a lot of effort to enjoy all the fresh produce.  This courgetti salad for example, uses spiralized raw courgette (zucchini) and it’s so quick to make that it really is worth getting the spiralizer out of the cupboard for.  But even if you don’t have a spiralizer, a simple vegetable peeler would make a perfectly acceptable substitute.

courgetti salad

This salad is a seasonal mix of courgette and spring onion, tossed with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing but with the addition of Barts baharat spice mix, which is what really gives this salad its lovely spiced flavour.

Baharat is a peppery spice mix from the Middle East that combines paprika, coriander, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cloves and nutmeg.   It’s great to add a little bit of heat to a salad dressing, lovely in a stew and delicious as a rub for foods that are going to be cooked on the barbecue.   Or in my case, inside on the griddle pan.   I’m using baharat a lot at the moment although this is just my first recent blog post to feature it.

This recipe represents quite a success in my own little world.  Mr SearchingforSpice does not like courgettes.  Even if I hide a few cooked ones in a  pasta sauce he will pick them out and refuse to eat them.   More for me!  He’s rather good at picking out vegetable pieces he thinks he doesn’t like.  Well, I fully expected him to not even try this courgetti salad but he not only tried a little, he ate rather a lot.  I just wonder how soon I can get away with making it again.   I may even be able to remake this lemon and courgette spaghetti one day!

courgetti salad

Courgetti Salad

Yield: Serves 4

A simple spiralized courgette salad with a lemon and baharat dressing.

Ingredients

  • 1 large courgette
  • 2 spring onions, sliced lengthwise and then into pieces about 5cm long
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp baharat seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

Instructions

  1. Spiralize the courgette or if you don't have a spiralizer you could slice it into thin strips using a vegetable peeler.
  2. Put the courgetti and spring onion in a bowl
  3. In a small bowl or jar mix together the remaining ingredients for the dresssing. Mix well or shake.
  4. Pour the dressing over the courgetti and toss together.
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I am linking to Fiesta Friday hosted this week by Jhuls at The Not So Creative Cook and Colleen at Faith,Hope, Love & Luck. I am also linking to No Croutons Required hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen and on alternate months by Tinned Tomatoes, linking to Eat Your Greens hosted by A Seasonal Veg Table and on alternate months by The Veg Hog. I am also joining in with Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and Cook Blog Share at Snap Happy Bakes.

No Croutons RequiredEat Your GreensTasty TuesdaysCook Blog Share

courgetti salad

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

gooseberry ice cream

Homemade Gooseberry Ice Cream

There’s nothing better than freshly picked berries and ice cream in summer so why not combine the two with this recipe for tangy homemade gooseberry ice cream?

Gooseberry ice cream

I love summer and I love all the fresh fruit and vegetables that are around right now.  One of my favourite activities to do with the children is to go and pick our own fresh fruit and vegetables at Garsons Pick Your Own Farm, which is where I picked these gooseberries.

If you’re not familiar with gooseberries they are tart green berries about the same size as grapes. You can sometimes eat the very ripe ones uncooked and without sweetening them but usually they are too sharp and need to be cooked and sweetened before they can be eaten.

Freshly picked gooseberries

I grew up on a farm and we used to pick them in some of the hedgerows so we always had a lot of gooseberry pies and crumbles at this time of year.  I’ve made a few crumbles myself and last year I made a delicious gooseberry cobbler.   This year however, I fancied trying something a little different.  I fancied gooseberry ice cream.

I was initially thinking along the lines of a gooseberry crumble cake and I still want to make that but I need to go and pick more gooseberries first!  I was then given the idea of making ice cream. Now I love my ice cream maker in summer but it was still sitting in the cupboard since last year. I just had to get it out, especially as I keep coming across so many tempting ice cream and frozen yoghurt recipes online.

I have had my ice cream maker for a few years now and seems to be out of stock but as far as I can see it is exactly the same as this Andrew James Ice Cream Maker , which is currently the number 1 bestseller on Amazon.   It only costs £27.99 at the moment so there really is no reason not to treat yourself!

Gooseberry ice cream freshly churned in ice cream maker

I haven’t used exact quantities in the recipe as the amount of sugar needed for the gooseberries does very much depend on how tart they are and also on how sweet you like your ice cream to be.   I love tart fruits to keep their sharpness but I know that not everyone feels like that!  Add some sugar or another sweetner to the gooseberries as they are cooking and then when they are almost ready taste them and add a little more if necessary.   Once the gooseberries have been mixed into the cream then you might also need to add extra sugar.   I add icing sugar at this stage as it dissolves more easily.

You can see from the pictures that there is still some texture in the gooseberry ice cream from the fruit.   I love to get lumpy fruity pieces in my ice cream but if you want it to be smoother then you could puree the gooseberries after stewing them.   You could even then pass the mixture through a sieve to remove pulpy bits and seeds.

gooseberry ice cream

I went for a plain gooseberry ice cream this time but you could also add some spices to the gooseberries as they are stewing to get a more complex flavour.  How about gooseberry cardamom ice cream?  That’s a recipe for next time!

I found that this gooseberry ice cream kept well in the freezer and didn’t go too hard.  It was possible to scoop it as soon as it came out of the freezer without having to wait for it to soften a little first.

If you’re looking for more homemade ice cream recipes then do take a look at my other ice cream recipes:  vanilla ice cream and affogato, kiwi fruit ice cream, cardamom and pistachio ice cream and raspberry and white chocolate ice cream.

I have to say I am also very happy with my new quick release ice cream scoops and Ravenhead sundae dishes which you can see in the picture below:

Gooseberry ice cream

Gooseberry Ice Cream

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 300g chilled stewed and sweetened gooseberries
  • 300ml double cream
  • Icing sugar or sweetener (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix the gooseberries and cream together in a mixing jug.
  2. Taste and mix in a little icing sugar or an alternative sweetener if the mixture is not quite sweet enough.
  3. Follow your ice-cream maker's instructions. Pour the gooseberry mixture into the ice cream maker and let it stir it for about 15 minutes when it should be fairly stiff. Transfer to a freezer container and place in the freezer. Or eat straightaway.

Notes

I haven't given instructions for stewing the gooseberries as they can vary a lot in sweetness. I added 150g or sugar to 800g of gooseberries but it is a matter of taste. Keep tasting and adding extra sugar until they are right.

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Do you make your own ice cream?  If so then please leave a comment and inspire me with your favourite flavour combinations.

I am linking to Tasty Tuesday at Honest Mum, Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and Cook Blog Share hosted this week by Sneaky Veg.

Tasty TuesdaysRecipe of the weekCook Blog Share

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Homemade gooseberry ice cream
Vegan carrot cake

Vegan Carrot Cake

This yummy vegan carrot cake is delicious, full of spices, sultanas and grated carrot and so moist you’ll definitely want another slice.

Vegan carrot cake

When our local Clandestine Cake Club challenged us to make a vegan cake recently it wasn’t a hard decision to make a vegan carrot cake.  You see, my huband is not the biggest fan of carrot cakes but I love carrot cake.   This means if I’m making a cake to eat at home, I feel I should take his tastes into account.  At least some of the time.  However, if I’m taking  a cake to cake club, I can make whatever I like and still get to enjoy it!  I love cake club for this.

Bring on fruity spiced cakes!   For my first cake club I made an apple, cinnamon and caramel cake.   I still hanker after a slice whenever I’m reminded of it!   Give me that or carrot cake or possibly courgette cake (although that’s still on my to-make list!) any day over chocolate cake or a plain madeira cake.  Not that I’d say no to any cake in reality though.

Did I mention that this carrot cake is vegan?  I’m not vegan and this is my first vegan cake.  I have to admit that I was a little worried about whether it would turn out ok or whether I’d be thinking there was something missing.  I needn’t have worried.  I’d choose to make this carrot cake recipe again whether I needed to make it a vegan carrot cake or not.

Vegan Carrot Cake

The recipe is slightly adapted from a vegan carrot cake recipe on the Vegan Society website.  After all, that seemed a good place to start looking, although I know many vegan bloggers with amazing cakes on their sites and I could have gone there for inspiration too.

Maybe I cheated a little by making a carrot cake for a vegan challenge as lots of carrot cake recipes use oil anyway instead of butter.   I used rapeseed oil for this cake but I think it would be nice to experiment with coconut oil another time.

The recipe I used didn’t seem to contain any replacement for eggs but as I love chia seeds so much at the moment I added a spoonful.  I’ve been reading recently about how you can grind them to a powder or mix them with golden syrup and I do want to experiment more with these ideas but just adding them as they were worked here.   In the lemon and raspberry muffins and the chocolate chia ones I made recently the chia seeds still had quite a crunch but in this vegan carrot cake they were barely noticeable if you didn’t know  they were in there.  I’m not sure if it was the extra baking time that made them loose more of their crunch or the fact that carrot cake has a lot of texture anyway so they just stood out less.

I was also interested in experimenting with aquafaba, the drained liquid from a tin of chickpeas, which can be used as an egg replacement as well.   However, I thought I should test it out on my family first rather than adding it to a cake I was going to offer to other people.

I’d love to experiment more with vegan cakes so please let me know in the comments about your favourite vegan cakes and what replacements you use for eggs and butter.

Vegan carrot cake (2)

Vegan Carrot Cake

Yield: 12-16 slices

A moist and warmly spiced vegan carrot cake

Ingredients

  • 225g grated carrot
  • 170g sultanas or raisins
  • 280g self-raising flour (you can use a mixture of white and wholemeal)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 170g sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200 ml vegetable oil
  • 200 ml water
  • Dash of vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A little vegan margarine for greasing the cake tin
  • For the Icing
  • 170g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 85g vegan margarine

Instructions

  1. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  2. Put the first 9 ingredients in a large bowl and stir together.
  3. Add in all the other ingredients and then stir them together till there are no dry bits.
  4. Put the mixture in the cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 190C for 60-70 minutes.
  5. Let the cake cool for a short while in the tin then transfer it to a wire rack.
  6. To make the icing, mash all the ingredients together with a fork then spread it onto the cake once it is completely cooled.
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I am linking to Honest Mum’s #TastyTuesdays, hosted this week by Le Coin de Mel and to #CookBlogShare hosted this week by Snap Happy Bakes and to #RecipeoftheWeek hosted by A Mummy Too. I am also linking to Love Cake hosted by JibberjabberUK.  The theme is Garden Party and of course this cake contains carrots.

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Vegan Carrot Cake
Chocolate chia seed muffins

Chocolate Chia Seed Muffins

I really wasn’t intending to make muffins again quite so soon after the last ones.   However, sometimes you don’t get a choice about what recipe to make and sometimes what you make turns out to be so tasty it really needs to be shared.   That’s the case with these chocolate chia seed muffins.

Chocolate chia seed muffins

Master Spice and I got back home after a morning at the local soft play and I made the mistake of asking him what he wanted for lunch.   Now, you should never ask a 2 year old what they want for lunch and I will remember that next time.

Not a sandwich, not jacket potato, not chicken, not scrambled egg but…

Pink cake.   I tried to change his mind but he became even more specific.   Pink birthday cake.

Now, luckily being only just 2 his standards are not quite as high as they may become and these little chocolate chia seed muffins in pink cases managed to satisfy him, me, Little Miss Spice and Mr Searching for Spice.

We had only just finished eating the Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins that I’d made the week before and I loved those muffins so much that I wanted to try and achieve the same texture but with completely different flavours so this recipe is an adaptation of that recipe.

I was keen to use chia seeds again and although chocolate and chia seed muffins might not be a typical muffin combination they really do go well together.  Just like in the other muffins, the chia seeds give the muffins a delicious crunch while still having that lovely soft muffin texture.

chocolate chia seed muffins

I used milk chocolate in these as the chocolate pieces were actually a leftover Easter egg that I’d being hiding in the cupboard since Easter.  My children go a little bit too crazy over chocolate and don’t want to eat anything else around Easter time and so as a good mother (or bad depending on your point of view!) I end up squirreling it away so they can’t find it.   I’m sure I’m not the only one who does that and this is a great way to use it up so they can still enjoy it.

You may be thinking that these muffins look a little yellow.   This is because in a vain attempt to make cakes that were actually pink I put a small amount of red food colouring in the mixture.  I didn’t have any pink and thought maybe  a little red would end up being pink.  I was wrong and I suspect if I’d put more in  they’d have turned orange so maybe we had a lucky escape!   I doubt this affected the flavour in any way and I haven’t included it in the ingredients but just in case you’re wondering why your muffins are a different shade to mine,  that will be it.

Chocolate chia seed muffins

And in case you’re concerned about whether poor Master Spice was given any savoury food for his lunch on the day when we made these, yes he was.  However, I cannot confirm whether he ate it all.  After all, by that point he knew we were going to make cake!

If I had to choose between the two chia seed muffins I’ve made so far, I’d have to choose the Lemon and Raspberry ones but my lovely husband would definitely choose these ones. According to him, they are perfect!

As homemade muffins are a great snack to have on hand to give to the children when they are peckish and keep well for about 3 days, I am linking these chocolate chia seed muffins to my own food blogging event,  #CookOnceEatTwice.  Do come and join in with any recipes that are perfect for more than one meal.

Chocolate chia seed muffins

Chocolate Chia Seed Muffins

Ingredients

  • 190g plain flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 80ml vegetable oil (I used light olive oil)
  • 120ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 70g chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)

Instructions

  1. Put the flour, sugar, salt, chia seeds and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Put the oil, milk, egg and vanilla extract into a mixing jug and whisk together with a fork.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together to just combine. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases and fill each case about 2/3 full.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Test with a skewer to see if they are ready. Mine were ready after 15 minutes.
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As muffins are perfect picnic food I am linking these to the #FoodYearLinkup at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen for National Picnic Week which is 11-19 June.  As I used leftover Easter egg in them I am linking to Utterly Scrummy Food for Families for the No Waste Food Challenge run by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.  These are also my #RecipeoftheWeek hosted by A Mummy Too and I’m linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum as well as Cook Blog Share hosted by Hijacked by Twins. Finally I am linking to #BakeoftheWeek over on Casa Costello and Maison Cupcake.

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Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins

Lemon and Raspberry Chia Seed Muffins

If you like lemon and poppy seeds you’ll love these lemon and raspberry chia seed muffins.   They are so morish you’ll find it hard to just eat one!  The chia seeds give them a gorgeous crunchy texture and the lemon and raspberry are a classic combination.

Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins

I normally opt for something savoury for my Secret Recipe Club choice but this month I’ve gone for something sweet and I’m so pleased I did.

I have to thank Renee at Renee’s Kitchen Adventures for the recipe as I was assigned her blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club.  Like me, Renee is a stay at home mum and she loves to cook healthy and delicious meals for her family.    I also love to cook healthy recipes and Renee’s blog is full of tasty choices.

Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins

These chia seed muffins were actually the second recipe I made.  As I love spices and I love jerk chicken,  I tried her grilled jerk chicken thighs first. I marinated them well and was really looking forward to eating them.  Unfortunately, as I was cooking them, Master Spice decided he was not going to sleep peacefully.   By the time he went to sleep a couple of hours later we’d given in and eaten them without taking any pictures!   Although there is sadly no evidence to show you, they were incredibly good.

My next choice was these lemon and raspberry chia seed muffins.  Chia seeds are very popular at the moment and often claimed to be a superfood.   They’re a source of fibre, omega 3 fatty acids and minerals such as iron and calcium.   They can be quite expensive but the price is definitely coming down and they are getting easier to find in the supermarket.   I bought a big bag recently and love to scatter them on my breakfast cereal or in yoghurt but until now I hadn’t done any baking with them.  I was just waiting to find the right recipe to try!

Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins

This was certainly the right recipe.  The muffins have a beautifully soft texture but with the crunch of chia seeds.  The whole raspberries give a burst of fruitiness every time you bite into one and the lemon goes perfectly with the raspberries.   The recipe makes 12 smallish muffins and they were a big hit with everyone in our household.

These muffins are very easy to make.   I love the fact that with muffins you don’t need to get a whisk or stand mixer out so of course there’s less washing up.   You just stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones and then spoon the mixture into the muffin cases. This means they are a perfect recipe for making with young children.  Little Miss Spice and Master Spice both helped although they were almost too keen and it was a challenge to stop them from over-mixing the ingredients!

I’m trying to get them to help in the kitchen more and more these days – they are both keen and it is difficult to let them make  a mess but it does seem to be encouraging them to at least try new foods.

If you wanted to adapt these muffins I’m sure other berries such as blackberries or blueberries would also be lovely and maybe even cherries.   Do let me know if you try them and please take a look below at the other Secret Recipe Club entries for this month.

Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins

Lemon and Raspberry Chia Seed Muffins

Yield: Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 190g plain flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 80ml vegetable oil (I used light olive oil)
  • 120ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 170g fresh raspberries
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

Instructions

  1. Put the flour, sugar, salt, chia seeds, lemon zest and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Put the oil, milk, egg, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon juice into a mixing jug and whisk together (I just used a fork)
  3. Put the raspberries and the extra tablespoon of flour in a bowl and stir to coat the raspberries in the flour.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together to just combine. Fold in the raspberries.
  5. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases and fill each case about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Test with a skewer to see if they are ready. Mine were ready after 17 minutes.
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I am linking these to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and Cook Blog Share, hosted this week by Snap Happy Bakes.  I am also linking to Bake of the Week hosted by Casa Costello and to Tea Time Treats hosted by Lavender and Lovage this month and on alternate months by The Hedgecombers.

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