Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Microwave meals for time strapped parents

As you may already know I am a working, commuting mum with an energetic 3 year old and another baby on the way. When I'm at work our day is fairly long, by the time we are home and Squiggle is tucked up safely in bed, it is usually about 8.30 before we start to think about dinner. If I want to get my dinner down me a bit before bedtime it has to be something quick and easy! Microwave recipes, pasta and pizza often come to my rescue!

Now I'm pregnant I do worry more about what I'm eating as not all of my fall back, quick dinners are as healthy as I would like. Confession time... I just polished off a pizza and last night it was a chicken grill in a sandwich. Not exactly the diet I want to be giving my unborn child but after a long day I'll just go for the quickest thing possible. It can be hard to think of new ideas for midweek, tasty dinners so I was really taken by these videos with great fish recipes and vegetable recipes which can be cooked in the microwave.

The microwave is a great invention don't you think? It's a life saver a lot of the time and I'm not sure what I'd do without it. I find I end up with less washing up after using the microwave too which is always a big bonus. Honestly I am always so tired by the end of the day!

I really don't think I am using my microwave to it's full potential though, I would never have thought to attempt such meals as demonstrated in these videos. Time to get more adventurous... I particularly like the look of the fish dish, it looks so fresh, tasty and easy to follow. I am definitely going to try it out and will let you know how I get on.

If you are stuck in a midweek meal rut like me, have a watch for some inspiration.

Note: I was sponsored to write this post but all thoughts and views are my own and I hope you find the recipes as interesting as I did.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Me vs. Cake Pops

A domestic disaster
This Mother's Day I wondered how could I really surprise my wonderful mum?... Why with stunning, home-baked, home-decorated cake pops of course! I was pretty sure she wouldn't have seen cake pops before and thought if I decorated them like an alternative bunch of flowers they would really have the wow factor.

In my head sometimes I am some kind of domestic goddess but sadly the reality can be quite different. It was kind of like the time I decided I could make my own icing flowers for my wedding cake... it was harder than it looked!

But for the brave among you here's what I did:

First I made a simple lemon sponge cake by mixing eggs, self raising flour, butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, cream cheese and baking powder together. My little one helped with this bit and we had fun pouring and stirring.

With high hopes into the oven we go!

My cake came out looking not too shabby, it hadn't risen as much as I'd hoped (we'll blame that on the hand mixing), but I thought that shouldn't be a problem for turning into pops. I cut the crispy edges off and Squiggle and I enjoyed them with a cup of tea and I have to say the taste was great. It was a perfectly respectable cake to give to a mummy.

Next I made some butter icing, mixing margarine, icing sugar, cream cheese and a splash of lemon. Also pretty tasty!

Then I started on the downhill cake pop slope (I think I may be a cake traditionalist at heart). Once the cake was nicely cooled and done nothing to deserve it's fate, I blended it into oblivion. I was so sad to watch my cake go after all our hard work making it! I have a hand blender which was perhaps not the best tool for this job as it compacted the mixture together. I then mixed in some of the butter cream icing to form a dough like texture which I then used to roll the ball shapes. I found the taste of the cake and the butter cream combined quite sweet but the oddest thing was the texture. What was not so long ago a delicious cake, now looked like it have never been cooked in the first place. 

And that's kind of what it tasted like too.

Please come out tasting better...

The cakes and I both needed to cool off so I popped  them into the fridge for a couple of hours. We went to the woods for some outdoor type fun!

I think she's drawing a cake pop...

Once we were home again it was time to decorate! First up I melted some Silver Spoon 'Cakecraft Orange Chocolate Flavoured Buttons' over some warm water. Then I took one of my pop sticks (I had a couple of options to try – lollipop sticks and coloured straws) and I dipped the end of it in some of the left over butter icing. This then went into one of the cake balls which was straight out of the fridge so it was nice and cool. 

Next I dipped the cake in the melted chocolate orange mixture and rotated the pop over the bowl so it wouldn't drip whilst it set. This went well and I figured even if I told my mum not too eat them they would still look good! Then, as had been suggested to me I stood the cake pop upright in a polystyrene block which I had found in some old packaging.

This is where I discovered you can't really stick sticks through polystyrene that easily and I needed to pre make the holes whilst trying not to spoil the cake pop I had just lovingly iced. It this quite fiddly but I got a few done. While they were still a little sticky I sprinkled them with some Dr Oetker 'Citrus Flavoured Strands' and then placed a very pretty Dr Oetker 'Wafer Daisy' on each. 

Then, disaster! Whilst happily trying to ice my next batch the finished cake pops started falling over and sliding down their sticks. No matter what I tried they kept falling apart, I had lost my patience with cake pops by this point.

Quick, take the photo before they go again!

The sticks went in the bin and I placed the iced ones on a tray to cool in the fridge instead. 

So now they were not cake pops, they were cake balls and cake balls are not an acceptable Mother's Day gift are they?
It was so disappointing as it had taken a fair amount of time but I did show them to mum in the end and she even politely tried one. I love you mum!

The verdicts!
Me: I just don't think I get cake pops.
Husband: I tried half of one of your cake pops. The clue is in the fact I tried half.
Toddler: Mmmm mmmm mmmm. (She'll eat anything).
Grandad: They are actually quite nice! (He'll eat anything).
Mum: Well they're very lemony. (Diplomatic).

What I've learnt about cake pops and myself
1. I would start by baking cupcakes as your base I think they might be lest moist for making cake crumbs.
2. Use a proper food processor to make the cake crumbs.
3. Make holes in your polystyrene block before you start.

4. I shouldn't bite of more than I can chew.

5. Next time I'm making cupcakes.

I'm entering this post for the chance to become an Innovator for Morphy Richards under the 'domestic disasters' category. Wish me luck, it would be such a fantastic opportunity!

I'd love to hear from anyone else who's had a go at making cake pops. Did I do it all wrong? Does anyone else out there actually like them other than my Dad?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Rainy day cakes

Sunday rain day meant it was time to make our own fun. Squiggle had been given the Annabel Karmel 'Children's First Cookbook' for her last birthday so we tried it out. For the first time for baking time I decided to bring her little low table downstairs to the kitchen for her and it made such a difference. She could reach everything, measuring, pouring and stirring, it was great fun. The book is lovely and the fairy cake recipe was so simple. It's really nice how the ingredients are laid out as pictures so she was able to look at the book and tell me which ingredients I needed to get out of the cupboard. I can't wait to give some of the other recipes a go together.

We made our fairy cakes into butterfly cakes... just because we love lemon curd!