Quick and easy crumpet french toast

 

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I’ve been looking up pancake recipes this week because the best day of the year fast approaches, and every so often a french toast recipe crops up and I have the biggest craving (to both eat it and book flights to New York). French toast is one my favourite indulgent brunches but I haven’t made it in a couple of years because I feel like it’s loads of effort.

It’s not loads of effort, I am just loads of lazy.

I had crumpets in the cupboard and a slightly hungover sister, boyfriend and brother in-law to feed, and since I didn’t think they’d want plain crumpets and we had bugger all else in the cupboards, french crumpets happened.

I once saw an amazing looking chocolate and cinnamon french crumpet recipe but it was very complicated and frankly I can’t be arsed with complicated on a Saturday morning. This is quick, easy and tasty so it gets full marks for lazy weekend eating.

You Need: crumpets, milk, 2 eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter to fry with and something sweet to drizzle on top.

Directions: Crack 2 eggs into a bowl and add in about 4 tablespoons of milk, some cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk together until you get a runny, sticky mixture. I put a tiny bit of dessicated coconut in too, but obviously it’s not necessary.

Dump your crumpets in for a little soak (about one minute on each side) and heat the pan with some butter. Fry them all together if you have a big enough pan, so you can actually eat them at the same time rather than awkwardly queue. I chucked frozen berries into the pan while they browned and let them go mushy to use as topping.

Once they’re browned, drizzle them with honey or maple syrup, chuck on your toppings and et voila, you’re done.

Quick, easy, healthy – Spiced chickpea & spinach stew

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I never made a conscious decision to eat less meat and I don’t class myself as a vegetarian at all, but slowly over the past few years my diet has become 90% veggie. When I first moved out from home as a working adult and got into cooking, I started making more vegetarian dishes because they were cheaper, often quicker and I didn’t like cooking with meat. I hate chopping it and dealing with it raw, and actually I didn’t miss it when I ate it less.

As if anyone else needs to rave about chickpeas or talk about how good they are a veggie meal staple, but I’m gonna do it anyway. I LOVE THEM. I love chickpea curry more than any other curry these days and I make it frequently- but perhaps too frequently. I decided to try something different with them and take a break from the chickpea and lentil dhal I was having a relationship with (a very committed, happy relationship) and this was born.

I tried to base this on a recipe I found online but then couldn’t find it again to copy when I was in the kitchen, so I just chucked in whatever I fancied and it tasted heavenly.

Ingredients:

1 onion chopped

400g canned chickpeas (drained and washed)

400g chopped tomatoes

25ml water

One big handful of raisons

1 tsp of cayenne pepper (or two if you like things really spicy)

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp coriander ground

A shake of basil

Two big handfuls of fresh spinach

Some grated beetroot (I put about 50g in because it’s an easy healthy extra, but you could use more or none)

1 roasted and chopped tomato

Method:

Roast a tomato for about ten minutes on a low heat in the oven.Brown the onion for a few minutes with a splash of oil, then mix in the cumin, coriander and cayenne. I also add a pinch of salt but you don’t have to. Mix this up for 30 seconds, then add in your chopped tomatoes and water and chuck in some basil. Chop your roasted tomato up small and chuck it in (I think roasted tomatoes make everything taste better) and let everything simmer for about 4 minutes.

Then chuck in the raison, spinach and beetroot and leave to cook for another 10 minutes on a low heat. It should thicken slightly, but should keep a liquidy bast. I served mine with toasted pitta bread but this would go with rice too.

I doubled all of these ingredients and got 5 portions out of it- it’s perfect for batch cooking for your lunch. ENJOY.

 

 

Recipe: Lasagne sheet tortillas and hot sauce dip

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The fact that this actually worked and tasted really good amazed me. My mum originally saw the idea for this on @theslimmingwoman’s Instagram and since I was off work on Monday and she had me as a kitchen aid, we gave it a go. Essentially, I guess making tortillas using wholemeal pasta is healthier than eating the shop-bought kind as you bake them and don’t slather them in vegetable oil- plus you can flavour them however you want! The flavour is the reason I like this idea so much and they turned out better than I could ever have imagined and had the perfect amount of crunch.

To make…

We boiled the lasagne sheets for about a minute and a half, so they were still quite hard, but starting to soften enough that you could tear them, rather than snap them. Then we cut them into triangles with scissors, and laid them on a baking tray sprayed with Fry-Light. Once they were all laid out, we sprayed them again, giving them a light covering and then dusted them with Nandos Peri-Peri salt, which you don’t need much of as it’s so strongly flavoured. You could also try garlic powder or paprika.

We baked them for about 8 minutes (our oven is fan-assisted so things tend to cook quickly) but they could probably go for 9 or 10 if needed. Once they were out I ground a bit of black pepper on for a touch more heat. To dip them in, I mixed cottage cheese with hot sauce and whipped it up into a chunky sauce consistency. We made these to go with chilli con carne and it was absolutely delicious. Once you start eating you’ll forget they’re made of pasta.

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Christmas DIY – Gingerbread table settings

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Christmas is a good time to make things. I seem to like the idea of creating things from scratch more and more and I really want to learn to make my own clothes next year, I’m just not that great at arty, creative stuff. When it’s Christmas though, it doesn’t matter how substandard your craft work is, because CHRISTMAS. You can’t be mean about festive things, which brings me to these- gingerbread place settings.

Basically, they’re just gingerbread biscuits with names on that you can stick on your Christmas table. I’m sure you can get loads of amazing glittery, festive baking decorations, but I only had icing, so my practice ones were very casual. They were also SO easy and we had loads of leftover dough for late night biscuit eating. I’m going to get some edible glitter and fondant snowflakes for the real deal for the full festive experience.

You can’t really go wrong on baking gingerbread, it’s one of the easiest bakes you can do by chucking a few things together in a mixing bowl.

I used…

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 130g butter
  • 165g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup

To make…

Sift together your bicarb of soda, flour, ginger and cinnamon, making sure all the lumps are gone. Melt the butter a little in the microwave, then add in and use your hands to combine until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

Beat the egg and syrup together, then add to the mixture and spoon in the sugar. Then use a hand blender to combine it into a thick dough. My nan says it’s very important to chill gingerbread- so stick it in the fridge for ten mins or so before you roll it out on a little flour and cut it up. I baked mine at 180 and they only took ten mins as the oven is fan assisted.Voila.

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Recipe: pastry-free green veg and baked cheese pies

  
I’m never going to be the type of person who dances around the kitchen throwing kale in the air like I just don’t care. I’m also not going to be posting photos of myself doing yoga next to a cup of green tea anytime soon, but last week I discovered something green and delicious and idiot-proof in the cooking stakes.

I like veg, I really do, and I like healthy food A LOT, but I have little restraint for carbs, fizzy sweets and biscuit binges. I’ve also spent all of my adult life so far being a slave to a condition that messes with my entire body. One of the most important things I can do to feel well and keep myself upright is eat a good diet. It helps with all manner of symptoms and we all know how vital eating well is, regardless of what’s going on with our health.

These little pots of joy (not to be confused with the chocolatey, deliciousness that is a Cadbury Pot of Joy) are my new favourite, low maintenance way to up my intake of good food. They are also going to be my new staple for lunch (I need to probably consume less soup and rice cakes before I start looking and bleeding soup and rice cakes) because I am behind anything that tastes as good cold as it does hot. And I don’t care much for the microwave queue at work. Very few good times are had in the microwave queue at work.

I don’t really know what to call these, they are groundbreaking and they were a kind of happy accident, so I’ll go with mini vegetable pie bakes.

The best two combos I’ve made so far are spinach, parsley, spring onion, leek and kale, OR kale, leek, courgette and green pepper.

Whatever you use, chop or shred it up pretty small before chucking it in a pan with a little olive oil and sauté until it’s all soft (and shrunken). If you use corugette, just chop it thinly into slices and leave it to one side.

For 4 portions about 1 large leek, 100g spinach and 80g of kale is enough.

  
Once you’re done with the veg, put it into an oven-proof dish, or mini dishes if you’re making small portions. Crack some eggs in a bowl (about 3 for a pie that’ll give 4 portions. I used one for the two little ones below), whisk them until combined and pour over the veg. Use a fork to make sure all the liquid soaks through. If you use courgette, layer it on top at the point.

Then the best bit- THE CHEESE. Crumble feta or goat cheese on the top of your greens, chuck some black pepper on, then bake.

About 25 minutes is sufficient for little pots, but if you make a big old batch, it might need longer to make sure everything cooks nicely inside. The egg sticks everything together, and makes a glaze that keeps it all whole, and the cheese makes a nice crispy topping- once it’s brown it’s likely ready to exit the oven.

Bloody delicious. 

Easy peasy gingerbread men for your leftover Christmas sweets

 

 I’m currently sitting surrounded by food. There’s food everywhere-mostly sweets and chocolates. The whole ‘eating for sport’ that we do over Christmas is fine and I love it as much as the next person. There’s few things in life as good as having a nice bowl of salt and vinegar crisps and a chocolate santa chaser for breakfast. However, if you have endless tubes of sweets and packets of chocolates that you’ll likely still be getting through come easter- MAKE GINGERBREAD.

I mean, what better way to use up sweet treats than just making more sweet treats? Also gingerbread is not just for Christmas and to be used as an Instragram post throughout December. It’s bloody delicious AND easy to make. Like, you can’t really go to wrong- apart from burn two feet like I did.

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LEFTOVER CHRISTMAS SWEETS GINGERBREAD MEN ARE GO.

Ingredients:

350g plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 3 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 130g butter, 175g brown sugar, 1 egg, 4 or 5 big glugs of golden syrup.

Measure out your dry ingredients and sift the flour, baking powder, ginger and cinnamon together, mix them up a bit and put your butter in the microwave for 15 seconds, then add this too. Use a hand blender (or full on food processor if you’re that way in inclined) and mix it all up.

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Keep mixing until it’s breadcrumby (technical baking term) and you’re done with the dry powdery bits. Crack your egg in a separate bowl, add in the syrup and beat together.

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Once you’ve combined the egg-syrup mixture with the dough, kneed it all together and then take it in giant clump, wrap it up in some cling film and put it in the fridge. About ten minutes is enough time. Don’t leave it too long or it becomes too stiff to roll out properly.

Flour your work surface, roll out the dough to an even thickness (not more than 1cm if you can judge that accurately) and then cut the little fellas out- AND BAKE. About 12 minutes on 180 degrees, but keep them in a little longer until they feel harder in the middle if need be.

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Decorating gingerbread is almost as good as eating them, at which point you won’t want to because you’ve spent all this time crafting them and creating hair and outfits out of icing. But the point is- ice them up and chuck allll those leftover sweets on top.

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9 resolutions for 2016 that I might actually stick to


I’ve made loads of pointless resolutions before that make me hate myself a bit for wasting my own time. Not even the usual weight loss, healthier living, better diet, habit changing kinds. I’ve made ridiculous, completely out of reach ones. ‘Don’t get so drunk it causes hangovers’ was a fave from 2013. Safe to say that lasted about 36 hours and here I still am trying to work out why we drink at all while wondering when I’ll next be having a gin. Waste of time. Waste of a resolution. My internal secretary won’t be scheduling any of that crap for the start of 2016.

Last year I don’t think I bothered beyond ‘eat more green vegetables’ which actually, I think I’ve done- massive respect to myself. I do actually have some resolutions for 2016 which I’m excited to not keep, but i do think the more stupid and slightly meh they are, the more likely they’ll stick.

1) Get more than one haircut. I currently look like Tarzan in ankle boots.

2) Don’t talk to myself on the tube.

3) Don’t let coffee go cold then take a mouthful and almost vomit. Currently a weekly occurrence in the workplace.

4) Learn what the correct amount of pasta for one person is.

5) Learn how to pipe icing so I can make cakes that bring people to tears and make them think I am a baking sorcerer.

6) Stop assuming a sports bra is unnecessary at the gym.

7) Be more positive about cats.

8) Stop staring at my phone screen EVERY night before bed and then laying awake wondering why I’m seeing white dots when I blink.

9) Learn about pensions.

Not the most exciting. Not the most life changing. Also you might laugh at pensions but I’ll be the one laughing when I’m 70 years old on a beach in St Lucia.  And these Definitely are not particularly challenging. It shouldn’t get to the point in life that you have to promise yourself that 2016 will be the year you talk less to yourself in public, but that’s where I’m at with life.

Gonna now go and get my dog in from the garden as she seems to be trying to upturn a stone Buddha.

A recipe for the weekend- chocolate slabs with no refined sugar

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I’m two and a half weeks in to my new life as a recovering sugar addict. It’s not been that eventful, although I have noticed positive improvements to Ehlers-Danlos symptoms- anyone with a chronic condition, try reducing your sugar and see what happens. It’s also done wonders for my skin. Giving up everything sweet and nice is NOT easy though, but you obviously don’t need to just stop eating tasty things. You just have to google ‘things that are nice and contain no refined sugar’, which is exactly what I did.

Someone recently pointed me in the direction of a recipe from Livia’s Kitchen, which contained no refined sugar, gluten or dairy. I used to roll my eyes at things described as ‘raw’’ and ‘all natural’ because I was too busy sitting in my sugary bubble, stuffing Haribo in my mouth and queuing for coffees with syrup shots, all the while still suffering really quite badly with a out of control chronic illness and endless list of symptoms- some of these are genuinely better since I started this.

As soon as I saw Livia’s photos of what looked a bit like millionaire’s shortcake and was described as a ‘Snickers slice’, I was all in.

I modified the recipe a bit, as I think these things can work with a variety of ingredients, and you may as well do it to your taste preference. If you’re trying to be better at cutting out sugar and bad snacks, I cannot recommend these enough. They take no form of baking skill whatsoever, as they’re just essentially mushed together, and they taste delicious. Just like a peanut caramel shortcake but with a coconut twist.

I haven’t changed my recipe that much from the original, but the coconut I added was delicious. I also made them again and used Hazlenuts and it was almost like a Nutella slab, which is obviously an enormous win.

Base

  • 100g ground rolled oats or oat flour
  • 20g desicated coconut
  • 125g ground almonds OR hazlenuts
  • 30ml maple syrup
  • 10ml Manuka honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Peanut Caramel

  • 350g dates
  • 95g peanut butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 40g peanuts (Toasted preferably or raw)

Raw Chocolate

  • 100g coconut oil
  • 60g cacao Powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla Powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (50ml)
  • 1 tbsp honey

As Livia instructs, you just make these by creating each layer and popping them in the freezer before adding the next. check our her website for lots of other treats. She’s on to something.

Because Thai food is important- How to make a delicious green curry

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Thai food is like, the boss of all food. I never thought anything could overtake my strong feelings of true love towards Indian, but then I went to Thailand and everything changed. I’ve wanted to learn how to make a good Thai curry ever since I got back and this is the tastiest, easiest, healthiest way to do it. It also impresses people when you can whip up something using all manner of torn up leaves, lemongrass sticks and other exotic things like coconut milk. SO cultured.

You need:

Lemongrass (1 stalk is enough)

Kaffir lime leaves (these are pricey so you can just use lime zest, it works really well)

A handful of corriander

3 chicken breasts chopped up small

Babycorn

Green beans

Coriander

Any other veg you fancy, GO WILD

Thai Green curry paste

Coconut milk 400ml

Lime juice (1 lime should do fine)

Jasmine Rice

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This is basically so easy once you do it once you never need to follow a recipe again.

Essentially just cook the chicken for a couple of minutes in a dash of oil, then add two big dollops of the curry paste (Wholefoods do delicious Thai pastes for about £2) and the lemongrass stalk. Bash the top of the stalk so the flavour comes up and then chuck it in whole. You also need to rip the lime leaves into pieces (I use about 5) and throw these in. Mix these together on a high heat for about a minute, then pour in the coconut milk. Add the veg and let the concoction simmer for around 25 minutes. It should become slightly thicker, but not much. Just before the 25 minutes is up, squeeze in the lime juice and chuck the coriander in.

Thai should always be served with Jasmine rice. For the stickyness. And just because that’s what they do in Thailand and who are we to argue?

VOILA. CURRY. ENJOY. YUM. HEALTHY.

Oh and shall we just admire Thailand for a second? That blue t-shirty spec in the sea is my boyfriend.

hh

Raw gluten-free Nutella brownies

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I’ve become a bit addicted to ‘raw food’ lately. Since Wholefoods opened in Fulham all I want to do is eat things infused with chia seeds or buy organic freshly made soups everyday. BUT since I’m not a millionaire and Wholefoods products are not cheap, this is a compromise. I absolutely love Nakd bars, particularly the plain cocoa one, so this is a sort of take on that using dates, which creep me out to look out but I love.

It’s unbelievably quick and easy, you just need a blender and a fridge.

Ingredients: 

460g of dates (medjool are the best as they’re the stickiest, but they’re pricey. Standard dates work too)

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200g pecan nuts

2 tablespoons Nutella

1 tablespoon honey if you want them extra sweet

Method: 

Blend the pecans for about a minute and half until they resemble breadcrumbs

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Add in dates and blend until the mixture becomes thick and sticky, usually 2 minutes will do it

Separate the mixture in your hands and put the Nutella in the middle, blend again for about 40 seconds

If you want to add honey, drizzle it in with the Nutella. I personally find them sweet enough as they are.

Once you have your mixture, take it out (it should come out in one big lump) and roll it out until it’s about an inch thick. Cut into shapes. I try to make them square to look more brownies, but I cut them with a round cutter this time and it was much easier, despite making them look like little burgers.

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Result: 

Delicious. Eat them straight away or whack them in the fridge to keep them fresh. They’re definitely not calorie free, because of the dates and nuts, but they are a healthy brownie. They are also fantastic fuel for exercise or a particularly busy day, or just for doing this:

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