Thursday 31 March 2016

Vegetables in Tao Pan Sauce with Garlic Rice #PowerofFrozen

During the week when I work, I always plan my meals the night before and make a point of cooking meals that can be done in less than 45 minutes. To achieve this, I rely a lot on my freezer for pre prepared frozen vegetables, herbs and spices and some pre prepared home cooked meals. New freezing methods used nowadays ensure that the full nutritional value of the vegetables and their freshness is retained fully so that I can reach out to my freezer at anytime and can be assured that the vegetables we consume are at their best. I am a big fan of freezing vegetables when they are in season so I have use of  them all the year around.

This delicious Garlic Rice and Vegetables in Tao Pan sauce with cashew nuts is one of my family's most favorite meals and I can have it from wok to table in less than 45 minutes.

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Vegetables in Tao Pan Sauce 
A medley of vegetables cooked in a sweet and sour Tao Pan sauce with cashew nuts served with aromatic Garlic Rice.
  • 450g Iceland Mixed peppers
  • 450 g Iceland Broccoli mix (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots)
  • 200g Tinned Pineapple cubes (drained and serve juice)
  • 6 Spring Onions (finely chopped)
  • 3 Garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 Red Chilli finely sliced
  • 4 tablespoons Sweet and sour chilli and garlic sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Tomato Ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon White wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dark Soya sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Pineapple juice
  • 1 teaspoon  Corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh ginger(finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon Iceland Taste red chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons Cashew Nuts

1. Chop the broccoli and cauliflower florets into smaller pieces.2. In a wok add the oil, when the oil is hot add the cashew nuts and fry them until they are golden brown, remove them from the oil and drain them onto kitchen paper.3. To the remaining oil, add the garlic and spring onions followed by the peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, red chilli and carrots and stir fry the vegetables on high heat for 3-4 minutes until they are cooked through.4. In a jug add the pineapple juice and corn flour and whisk together. To this mixture add the salt, garlic chilli sauce, tomato ketchup, soya sauce, fresh ginger, red chilli flakes and whisk together again. Add this sauce to the vegetables in the wok and stir fry until all the vegetables are fully coated with the sweet and sour sauce.5. Toss in the pineapple chunks and  the fried cashew nuts. Transfer the Tao pan vegetables from the wok into a serving bowl.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Serves 4

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Garlic Rice
Aromatic grains of Chinese rice fragranced with sauteed garlic, scallions and a hint of chilli.
  • 3 bags Iceland Easy Steam white rice
  • 1 tablespoon Soya sauce
  • 6 Garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Red chilli(finely sliced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Iceland Taste red chilli flakes
  • 4 Spring Onions(finely sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon Sunflower oil
1. Place the Iceland Easy Steam white rice bags in the microwave for 6 minutes.2. Peel the garlic and cut it into thin round slices.3.Remove the rice from the microwave and carefully cut open the bags and transfer the rice onto a plate and allow it to cool slightly.4.Add oil into a wok and allow it to heat up. Add the garlic slices and saute until they start to turn slightly brown. Remove the sauteed garlic slices from the oil onto kitchen paper.5. To the remaining oil, add the spring onions, red chilli slices, chilli flakes, salt and the rice and toss the rice. Add the soya sauce and a sprinkle of salt and then toss the rice until it is well infused with the garlic oil flavours. Add the pre sauteed garlic slices and toss them into the rice.Transfer the rice to a serving bowl.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Serves 4

This post was in collaboration with Iceland as part of the #Powerof Frozen Campaign. To learn more about Icelands frozen foods, do visit the #Powerof Frozen website where you will find lots more recipe ideas.

You can also see some delicious recipes created by some of my friends below, please note they are not all vegetarian.:

Emilys Five Spice Scallops with Noodles
Kerry's Chocolate Berry Crumble
Kate's Pesto and Cauliflower picnic pies
Sarah's Five Fish Pie
Jacqueline's Creamy Mushroom Potatoes

Sunday 27 March 2016

Master Class with Paul Hollywood

I am sure that all my readers have at some point watched Great British Bake off. I really enjoy the show and each season I make a point of watching every episode. In fact my whole family including my sports mad hubby enjoys the show.

I love watching the contestants creating their challenges and watching their progression from one show to the other. I love the gentle Mary Berry, who is so tactful and inspiring and the contrast of Paul Hollywood who appears really strict and rather stern. They both give the perfect balance to the show.

I was recently invited to attend a master class with Paul Hollywood. The class was held to launch a new set of Artisan mixes that are being launched by Paul Hollywood. I was really excited to meet the man in person so I took a day off work and attended the class the violin factory in London, a lovely and stunning venue.

After a short introduction by Paul of why and how he started baking, he demonstrated making some amazing chocolate brownies with one of the mixes. The brownies were delicious.

Paul then went on to show us how to create a lovely tear and share bread.

I was lucky to be chosen to assist Paul in creating the bread. It was very interesting to learn from Paul the perfect  technique to roll the bread rolls so that they were smooth with no cracks. You can see in the video below Paul showing me how to roll the bread rolls.

The Paul Hollywood range of mixes are a perfect way to create your own home baked goodies using very little effort.

After the  demonstration we enjoyed tasty lunch of the freshly prepared breads and cold meats, cheeses etc. I was invited as a guest to attend the launch of The Paul Hollywood baking range. All the views and opinions in this post are of my own experience of the day.

I attended the master class with my friend Heidi  Roberts from Heidi Roberts Kitchen Talks.Sho was quick with my camera and captured the video and photos for me. Thanks Heidi for capturing these lovely memories for me.You can read all about Heidi's experience here.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Cadbury's Creme Egg Eggless pancake roll Cake.

**WARNING** Try at own risk!!! :) This cake is not for the faint hearted.You have to have a serious sweet tooth,  have a genuine love affair with Nutella, chocolate and Cadbury's Creame Eggs!!!! A small slice will go a long way especially round your waist!!!

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Cadburys Creme Eggless pancake roll cake
Eggless crepes rolled with nutella, topped with fresh cream and Cadbury's creme eggs.

  • 1 cup Plain Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • A small pinch Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Melted Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
  • A few squirts Sunflower spray oil
  • 1.5 cups Skimmed Milk
  • 1 tablespoon Chocolate chips
  • 100 ml Fresh Double cream
  • 2 large and 8 mini Cadbury's creme eggs
  • 3 tablespoons Nutella

1. Sieve together the flour, salt and baking powder and keep aside2.To the flour add the sugar, vanilla, melted butter and milk and make a thin batter. Cover and leave the batter to rest for 20 minutes. Transfer the mixture into the OXO pancake batter dispenser for easy pouring.3.Spray the frying pan with sunflower spray and wipe surplus off with kitchen paper.4.Place the frying pan to warm up and pour a thin layer of batter into the frying pan, swirl the pan around until batter is thinly spread and covering the whole pan. Wait for bubbles to form and them flick the pan cake and cook underside.Repeat for all batter and keep pancakes covered whilst making more.To Assemble your pancake cake. Whip up the double cream until it's stiff peaks and fill up a piping bag with a star nozzle.2. Lay a pancake on a flat surface and spread with nutella, sprinkle with a few chocolate chips. Roll up the pancakes and arrange the pancake in a spiral in a serving dish. Make all the pancakes in this way and keep adding them to the serving dish in a swirl until the whole dish is packed with pancake swirls.Spread a little more nutella on the top and sprinkle some more chocolate chips on top.Pipe some fresh cream rosettes on top and then decorate with some chopped up cadbury's creme eggs, letting the insides ooze out.Chill and serve.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Serves 4

The pancake batter dispenser, the stainless steel  mixing bowl and the 9 inch balloon whisk featured in this post are all available from Oxo and they would make ideal utensils to have in your kitchen for baking. I was sent the samples to review by OXO, all the opinions are my own.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Gluten and Grain free Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns are very traditional to Easter and I love baking them on Easter morning so that we can enjoy them piping hot straight out of the oven. This year I have a friend who has a gluten intolerance visiting so I have decided to bake a batch of gluten free ones so she too can enjoy them with us. The recipe is not my own but one that I have book marked from the Alternative Healthy Easter Treats cookbook.

The recipe was simple to follow and the ingredients used in it were all natural too. You can purchase the Sweet Freedom Choc Shot Liquid chocolate Coconut and the Sweet Freedom 100% Natural fruit sweetener  from Discount Supplements.

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Gluten and Grain free Hot Cross Buns
Gluten and Grain free Hot Cross Buns
  • 150g Ground Almonds
  • Small pinch of  Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 30 ml Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sweet Freedom natural dark sweetener
  • 1 tablespoon Orange Zest
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon Egg replacer (Aqua Faba)*
  • Small Pinch Cinnamon
  • 40 g Dried cranberries or dried fruit of choice
  • 25 g Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tablespoon Sweet Freedom Choc Shot for Icing buns
1.Preheat oven to 160 degrees C2. In a bowl add the ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt and cinnamon mix together.Add the cranberries and chocolate chip and mix again.3. In a jug add 1 tablespoon Aqua Faba (This is the cooking water from precooked tinned chickpeas) Whisk this liquid till it resembles egg whites.4. To the aquafaba, add the oil, orange zest, natural sweetener, vanilla essence and whisk together again to combine. Add this liquid to the dry ingredients and combine all the ingredients.5. Pinch small lime size balls of the mixture and place them on a baking tray flattening them slightly.6. Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.7. Remove tray from oven and leave to cool , do not attempt to move the buns whilst hot they will fall apart.8. Once buns are cooled add a chocolate cross on each one using the Sweet Freedom Choc Shot.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10 mini buns

*NB- You can use 1 egg in the recipe, however I used Aqua Faba this is an egg substitute which is the cooking liquid of beans. I drained a can of precooked chickpeas  and used a tablespoon of the liquid, the remaining you can freeze to use later. you can read about AquaFaba here.

Although this recipe was a hit with my friend and family, I did find that the texture of these Gluten and Grain free Buns was not like a real hot cross bun it was more like a cross between a chewy cookie and cake.

This is a collaborative post, I was sent samples of Sweet Freedom Choc Shot and Sweet Freedom natural dark sweetener to use in my recipe, I was compensated for my time for trying out this recipe.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Chickpea Dal with Spinach

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Chickpea Dal with Spinach
A delicious protein packed dal, spiced with ginger and garlic and aromatic spices.
  • 1 cup Chickpea Dal (Split chickpeas)
  • 200g Baby Spinach finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chilli Powder
  • 2 Green chillies
  • 5 Curry Leaves
  • 1 Dried red chilli
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Passata( sieved tomatoes)
1. Wash the dal in few changes of water and then soak it over night.2. In the morning change the water and add dal to a large pan with 1 litre water and bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer the dal for 30 minutes until its cooked but still holding shape. Intermittently while dal is simmering remove the white frothy scum that collects and discard it.Once dal is cooked turn off heat and leave it aside.2.Add the oil in a sauce pan and wait for it to heat up. Add the mustard seeds and red dried chilli and wait for them to splutter.3. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for a few seconds then add the passata, followed by the salt, chilli powder, turmeric powder and cook the mixture for a minute until all the spices are blended into the tomatoes.3.Add the chopped spinach and sauté until its cooked for about 2-3 minutes.4. Add the cooked dal and add a little extra water if needed to get the required consistency.I prefer my dal thick so I add less water.5. Simmer the dal for 5 minutes with the spinach mixture to allow all the spices to blend in.6. Turn off heat and transfer dal to serving bowl. Serve with steamed rice or chappati.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Serves 2

NB- Chickpea dal is basically black chickpeas that have had the outer coating removed and then split. It is readily available in the Asian section of most supermarkets, health food stores and Indian grocery shops. The packet will have on it chana dal.

Monday 7 March 2016

Mother's Day, How was your day?

This year mother’s day was a rather subdued and quiet affair for me. Neither of my girls were around to pamper me and I also had to go to work. My sunday morning started with a hot cup of masala tea with my daughter followed by breakfast.

I didn't have time for a large cooked breakfast but I really enjoyed my porridge with bananas and a helping of delicious Rachel's Banana and Dulce de Leche yoghurt.

There was still time left to enjoy another cup of masala tea and round of hot buttery toast before venturing out to work on a cold and icy day.

Most of my followers know that I love kitchenware and cookware so I was really pleased to find that my girls had bought me three very cute little ceramic bowls in different pattern in blue, some delicious shortbread cookies and some flowers. The best bit was the lovely homemade Mother's Day card that the girls made.

We had no plans for eating out but when I returned home from work, there was a delicious aroma that had filled the kitchen. Hubby was preparing a lovely mother's day dinner so I was banished from the kitchen while my daughter and him added the finishing touches on the meal. I really enjoyed my day despite the fact that I did not get to spend the whole day with the family, but I guess quality time is more important than quantity.

My surprises were not over, I was also presented with a lovely homemade chocolate cake served with creamy rich and decadent  scoops of my favorite Haagen Dazs Cookies and Cream and Pralines and Cream ice cream. 

Obviously after such an indulgent dessert we had to eat something healthy while we all enjoyed a family movie nite. The bowl of sweet juicy strawberries were simply delicious to munch on despite being out of season.

I always believe that the act of caring is what makes a day special not expensive presents or elaborate outings. My day was perfect and the added bonus was I didn't even have to do the washing up!!!!!
How was your Mother's Day???

Disclaimer: I was sent vouchers to purchase the Haagen Daz ice cream and Rachel's Yoghurts. 

Thursday 3 March 2016

Jaffa Cake Pops Bouquet for Mother' s Day

Mother’s Day is coming up and these little beauties I made with my 5 year old niece little M for her to give to her mum for mother’s day.This is a simple idea for children to make for Mother’s Day, there is no cooking involved and the results are really pretty.

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Jaffa Cake Flower Bouquet for Mother's Day
A beautiful edible flower bouquet for Mother's day.
  • 12 Jaffa cakes
  • 40 g each colour Fondant ready to roll icing in pink, yellow and green
  • 2 tablespoons Apricot Jam (warmed)
  • You will also need 12 wooden coffee stirrers, round cookie cutter and shaped fondant cutters
1.Using the point of a knife, poke a hole in the bottom of the Jaffa cake and push into the hole the wooden coffee stirrer to make Jaffa cake lolly. Do this for all 12 Jaffa cakes.2 Roll out the green fondant and cut out 12 circles of green fondant using the round cookie cutter. The cutter should be same size as Jaffa cake.3.Brush the non-chocolate side of Jaffa cake with warmed apricot jam and stick the green fondant circle over it.4. Roll out the pink and yellow fondant icing and cut out cupcake shapes and flowers, stick them to the green fondant covered side using a little water. Repeat for all the 12 Jaffa cake pops.5.Arrange the Jaffa cake pops in a pretty vase and they are ready for gifting.
Prep time: Cook time:None Total time: Yield: 12

Also A big thankyou to the kind young man in Costa coffee that gave us the stirrers for the pops.

Tidbits in my Pantry

This month I have had a fair amount of snacks that have arrived at the simplyfood kitchens. I love my snacks but I do try to make sure they are healthy too. The selection of snacks I have received this month have all been delicious and healthy so we have been able to munch through them guilt free.

Emily Fruit Crisps are low in fat, gluten free, vegan, no added sugar.Three delicious flavours;banana, pineapple and apple and they are also launching a new vegetable crisp soon too.

Fit Fit Fruit snacks  are discs of compressed dried fruits for perfect snacking. 
They come in 5 delicious flavours ; 
Apricot, Apricot and Almond, Fig and Walnut, Fig, Date and Coco. 

These little snacks are free from colouring, GMO free, have no added sugar and are gluten free too.

Ten acre snacks make a wonderful range of hand cooked crisps and delicious and unusual flavours of popcorn. 

These snacks are gluten free, dairy free and have no MSG.They are suitable for vegetarians.

Soffles Pitta Chips, oven roasted with fresh ingredients these pitta chips are so moreish that you won't want to stop with one bag. 

The pitta chips come in delicious flavours such as spring onion and Italian Cheese, Rosemary and Thyme, Wild Chilli and Garlic.

Metcalfe's skinny popcorn is so delicious and perfect for snacking. They come in a variety of delicious flavours so something for everyone.

I received these samples to try by the various companies when I visited the Hotelympia.
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