Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Okay so, I know i'm embarrassingly late to the Halloween party but these cupcakes were far too delicious not too share, even if it is ridiculously late. You know I thought I didn't even like pumpkin in baked goods before these and these little cakes changed my mind. The cake was so moist and soft, even after a few days in the fridge and it had the perfect amount of autumnal spice going on. And the icing was beautifully smooth and sweet and complemented the spiced cake beautifully!! I could rant and rave about these cupcakes all day long but maybe I should just give you the recipe instead. This recipe is adapted from the BBC Good Food website. Here's a wee picture of my Halloween decorated cupcake,

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the Cake:
175ml groundnut oil
175g dark muscovado sugar
3 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
200g tinned pumpkin puree
zest of one orange
2tsp of ground cinnamon
200g self-raising flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the frosting:
250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter
25ml whole milk
1tsp vanilla extract
red and blue gel food colouring

1.Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
2.Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.
3.Pour the oil into a large bowl and add the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat, then add the pumpkin puree and orange zest
4.Stir in the cinnamon, flour and bicarbonate of soda, it will be quite a wet mixture. 5.Spoon into the cases. Bake for 25 mins and test with a skewer making sure it comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack until cold.
6. To make the frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter together. Combine the milk and vanilla together in a separate bowl and add to the butter and sugar mix gradually whilst beating. Add your colour in at this point, start with a tiny bit as you can always add more in.Continue to beat at a high speed for a few mins until it is light and fluffy. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and decorate how you wish. Then eat up!!

There you go, a yummy recipe for pumpkin spice cupcakes. I really recommend that you give these a wee go, I will definitely be making these every autumn from now on. Yum yum. Let me know if you made these and how they turned out for you!

Happy Baking,

Rachael xx.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Best Brownie Recipes

Hey! So, I LOVE brownies! I'm just putting that out there. I mean I really love them, if there was one food I could eat forever and not get fat, it would be brownies. I also love trying different brownie recipes, they are just such a comforting and quick bake to make. There is nothing better than a warm gooey brownie with lots of chocolate and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. So today, I have compiled a list of my favourite recipes for these yummy decadent treats. These recipes are  no-fail and are loaded with all the good stuff i.e. chocolate, butter, raspberries, and even cookies! Yum yum, so let's get started!

-Best-Ever Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

These brownies are seriously gooey and seriously chocolately! I love them so much but they don't make the most attractive brownie but the taste is definitely worth persevering when dishing them out! They tend to take on a bit of a flat gooey mess look! But that's fine, that's the way they are supposed to be! You can find the recipe on the BBC Good Food website :).Just here. I have made these brownies too many times to count and every time they have been totally delicious! I also think these would be great baked on a smaller scale in individual ramekins for a dessert.

-Chocolate Orange Brownies.

These brownies are again super yummy! They also have a much neater shape that the previous brownies and can be cut much better. Boy are these good, the real big thing with these is to use really good chocolate orange try Lindt or Green and Blacks. On the plus side these are kind of healthy right, there is the zest of one whole orange in there. Again this recipe can be found on the BBC Good Food website. Just here.

-Cookies and Cream Fudge Brownies

This recipe comes from one of my favourite celebrity cooks, the lovely Loraine Pascale. These brownies are super easy to make and taste so yummy. The texture is a lot more sturdy as well and as you can tell, they are pretty good for making santa hat brownies. I made these wee yummies for a Christmas party and the brownie made a pretty good base :). You can find the recipe just here

-Raspberry and White Chocolate Blondies

Okay so they aren't traditional brownies but I don't discriminate and these are amazingly yummy. White chocolate and raspberry were meant to go together. These are super sweet and a wee bit different to your average brownies. The recipe has already been featured on my blog and you can find it here .

-Hummingbird traditional brownie
You can't have a list of the best brownie recipes and not feature a classic recipe. This is where all these alternative brownies have stemmed from. This recipe is super easy and super tasty. The recipe can be found in the hummingbird bakery cookbook. The book describes these brownies as chewy, chocolatey and dense. I would recommend including some chocolate chips or chopped nuts in the recipe to make it extra-special and yummy.  You can buy the book, which I highly recommend, it has some great bakes and cake recipes, it's a bit of a baking classic. You can also find the recipe here.
Okay so that's it, thanks for reading! If you have any favourites that I haven't included I would love to hear about them and maybe try them, I'm always on the look out for new brownie recipes. Until next time, happy baking!
Rachael xx.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

5 Best Books for Budget Recipes.

Hi guys, today I'm going to talk a little bit about cooking healthy meals from scratch and on a budget. We all know that things can get quite hard financially very easily these days. I myself have experienced this lack of money in the pocket not only when I was a poor wee student but also last year just after I got married. Being young, married and broke is not a good plan but what can I say we were in love and it made us stronger ( oh cringe, I'm getting sappy)! Me being me, I was not prepared to do without good food everyday, I wanted healthy and cheap recipes that I could make from scratch. So, today I have five recipe books that are great for these kind of meals, they scrimp on price but not at all on flavour and are full of great tips for eating well on a budget.

- EAT by Nigel Slater

The first of two books by Nigel Slater in this list. Nigel Slater is one of my favourite chefs at the moment so needless to say I was so excited when this book came out. I just love his simplistic approach to cooking, I love how his recipes don't use a whole pantry of ingredients, it's just good honest food with a few crazy combinations (mackerel and rhubarb, I'm looking at you). But apart from all these things, his recipes are very cheap, he includes a lot of vegetarian meals too, which we all know is cheaper than eating meat every night. The book also includes over 600 menu ideas which makes certain that there is always something you fancy in there for dinner. As well as that, the book contains loads of ideas on how to change up the recipes depending on what you may already have in your fridge and cupboards. A few of my favourite recipes are mackerel with bulgur and tomato, Spiced mushrooms on Naan, Poor man's potatoes and Bacon Boulangere.

-A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe

This book is seriously a life-saver. Her recipes are so cheap and tasty, I can't sing this books praises enough. The author has been through so much and her recipes are developed for people eating on the breadline. There is a huge range of recipes in this book all of which are healthy and yummy. Jack Monroe makes use of lots of tinned food like chickpeas and beans to bulk up her meals and making them filling without always having to use expensive meats and carbs. I still use this book frequently as the recipes are that good. I just love her relaxed approach to her recipes too, you can add whatever you like that you already have in the fridge too, making them good at reducing your household food waste. Some of my favourites are (it is really hard to pick just five) carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers, chickpea, carrot and coriander falafels, creamy salmon pasta with a chilli lemon kick, not-meatballs and lentil Bolognese.

You should also check out her blog by the same name, it makes for great and eye-opening reading.

- Real Food by Nigel Slater

The sub-title to this book is 'real food means big-flavoured, unpretentious cooking. Good ingredients made into something worth eating. Just nice uncomplicated food'. This is exactly what this book delivers. As well as being uncomplicated, his meals are also quite budget friendly. When you only focus on certain ingredients and cooking them really well you don't need to spend too much. A few of my favourite recipes from this book are potato and smoked mackerel dauphinoise, creamy roast chicken risotto, Coq au Reisling ( for special occasions), green chicken curry, and Toad.  There are so many great recipes including a whole chapter dedicated to garlic (yum yum).

-Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver

This is quite a controversial one for me as I don't actually think it was that great for me but that was because I was only cooking for me and the hubby. If you use the book as it is meant to be used, when you're cooking for your family e.g. four people or  more, I believe it would be very useful. Apart from that point, the recipes are completely delicious, easy and pretty much fail safe. I mostly stuck to the vegetarian meals when we were eating from this book just because it was cheaper and we aren't big meat eaters anyway. But I do absolutely love this book, it is also full of some great tips on using your freezer and making things out of leftovers. I also love Jamie Oliver's approach to cooking, it is so enthusiastic it's hard not to enjoy the cooking process. Some of my favourite recipes are Hangover noodles, Veggie Korma, BBQ baked beans, Sicilian squash and chickpea stew and Trout al Forno.

-BBC Good Food Magazine

Okay, so this isn't a recipe book but it's great so I HAD to include it on the list. If you don't know already, I LOVE this magazine, I get this magazine every single month without fail and I actually get excited the whole week before it comes out, it's that good. The night I get it I read the whole thing, pick all the recipes I want to make and cook them over the month until the new one comes out, it's a vicious circle. Why is this magazine so great, I hear you ask. Well, it has a huge range of recipes from healthy to cheap to special occasion to very very advanced. Every month it has a feature on what produce is in season and recipes on how to use this produce. It has amazing baking features. It even has menu plans for a whole week which it costs up and they are usually very budget friendly. I can't pick any favourites because there are too many, you just have to trust me and buy the magazine, you won't be disappointed!

Okay, so that's me done. I hope you found this post helpful, I really enjoyed writing it. I love sharing tips for cheap eating and other food related things. I just love all food generally (haha can't you tell!). If you have any other suggestions that you love let me know, I would love to try them :). Until next time, happy cooking!

Rachael xx.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Hello Kitty Carrot Cake

Hey lovely people! I know I've been a bit AWOL from the blog for quite a while but I'm really going to try and post all these ideas and recipes that I have floating around in my tiny little brain. So here goes!

Today's recipe is going to be Hello Kitty Carrot Cake! This is the first cake which I have made which has been of special importance and special request. It was my sister's 21st birthday and she requested this very cake (she's very particular, don't you know). So today I'm going to share with you how I attempted to make this happen for her!

( Well this is it, isn't she a beaut!)

To make the cake all you need is:

4 eggs
300ml vegetable oil
400g caster sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
350g grated carrots
125g chopped pecans

And then:

-Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and flour a cake tin.
-In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix in the flour, soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
-Stir in the carrots and fold in the pecans. Pour the mixture into a prepared cake tin.
-Bake for 40-50mins, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. The cake will colour quite a bit (i.e. it will look a bit burnt) but don't panic, it will be fine but cover the top in tin foil if you are of a nervous disposition like me (haha cakes mean serious business to me).
-Leave the cake to cool completely before icing with some lovely lemony cream cheese frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting, I use the hummingbird bakery basic frosting and add lemon zest. You will need:

600g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, cold
the zest of one un-waxed lemon

-beat the icing sugar and butter together in a mixer. Be careful with this bit, the icing sugar tends to go everywhere. I inhaled some when I did it, it was NOT pleasant.
-add the cream cheese and lemon zest and beat more until completely combined. Continue beating until you get some lovely light and fluffy frosting.
- cut your cake in half if you would like a two tier effect, otherwise just spread the icing on as desired.

To make hello kitty's face, this was the most difficult part for me, she looked a bit scary at one point when her face was lopsided but I soon rectified that. I just used shop bought fondant icing (ahhh the horror), drew a template and cut out the icing in the shape of her face and used some icing pens to draw on the detail and voila, hello kitty on a carrot cake, as per instructed! The cake was lovely and moist and went down very well with a celebratory glass of proseco. I hope you enjoyed this recipe and let me know if you gave it a go, I would love to see pictures also. Until next time, happy baking!

Rachael xx.