Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Orange lamb with pan-fried gnocchi

I thought I would share with you one of my favourite recipes that I have been creating for a few years now.  I make different versions of this, and this again is slightly different as I wanted to use what I had in my cupboard.  It's a really quick meal to prepare but looks a little fancier than what it actually is!

For 2 people what you will need:

2 lamb steaks (or 2 chops each)
2 tablespoons of orange marmalade (I chose with bits of orange peel too)
Juice and zest of half an orange
1 teaspoon of garlic puree
Olive oil
1/2 packet of gnocchi 

1.   In a small pan add the marmalade and orange juice/zest.  Bring to the boil and then allow to just simmer whilst  preparing the rest of the meal.  

*Do not allow this to boil too long or it will burn, you need to stir it frequently*

2. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan and place the lamb over a medium heat.  Brown both sides for 2-3 minutes then transfer to a baking sheet and put into the oven at around 370F for 5-10 minutes (longer if you don't want your lamb pink).

3.  In the same pan you had the lamb, add the garlic and the gnocchi, and a touch more oil if you need to.  Put onto a medium heat and fry until the gnocchi become golden.

4.  Remove the lamb from the oven, pour the orange sauce over it and serve with the gnocchi and green beans

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Shrove Tuesday... Pancake day!

One of my favourite days of the year is here today! So much so that I couldn't wait till dinner time for pancakes (crepes) so when my husband popped home for lunch today, I got him in the kitchen to help make, and toss, some pancakes!  

I will happily admit, that as easy as pancakes are to make, for some reason the first one I make always sticks to the pan!  It's a time my husband likes to show off his pancake making skills as he happily tosses his pancake high into the air and catches it again whilst I stand back and watch.  I'm a little more cautious but don't drop any on the floor!  

After 3 pancakes each, I'm stuffed!  For me there is only one way to eat pancakes, with golden syrup!  A staple breakfast for me for many years, the taste of pancakes with golden syrup always reminds me of my mum bringing me breakfast in bed (yes I was VERY spoilt).  

I've had a little search on the Internet to see if I could get any inspiration for other ideas and these are my top 5 sweet pancake ideas, obviously golden syrup is number one in my book, but that aside here are the others along with my basic batter recipe!

Pancake batter - makes 6-7 pancakes

4oz plain flour
1 egg
300 ml of milk
pinch of salt

1.  Combine flour, salt and egg.
2.  Whisk in the milk a little at a time to avoid lumps.
3.  Heat oil in a pan and add rougly 1/6 of the mixture to the pan once the oil is hot.

Before it was tossed!

And after!!

Why not try some of these fillings:

Number 5: Normandy apple crepes for those of you who love Carmel apples, this is a great way to combine two favorites!

Number 4:  Chocolate and raspberry pancakes not your usual chocolate filling, this recipe calls for a chocolate custard filling!
Number 3:  Banoffee pancakes these tasty treats are right up my street! I love banoffee pie, particularly the one my sister used to make, so these are the perfect combination of the two!

Number 2: Maple pear crepes my mouth is watering just looking at these beauties! Wow....

Number 1: Peanut butter cup crepe! Well I searched and searched and could not find anything relating to crepes and peanut butter and chocolate!  After visiting Annapolis at the weekend and watching my husband eat a crepe filled with peanut butter and nutella, I thought I'd find a link but I can't! So here is my suggestion: 

Per crepe - 1 tablespoon nutella or chocolate spread and 1 teaspoon peanut butter.  Spread both on one edge of the pancake.  Roll from this end (so filling ends up in the centre) and enjoy the peanut butter cup effect!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine Cake Pops!

If you are like me and stuck in because of snow storm Pax, why not try and get creative?  These cake pops make a great afternoon of fun for all the family!

The snow on our deck this morning!
After some careful consideration I decided it was time that I had a go at making cake pops! I made some at Christmas with my mum back in England and it was good fun so I thought I'd do it again.  I bought a cake pop mould on my way home and got to work.  Unfortunately the mould was clearly not very good and the instructions I had decided to follow let me down, enormously!  So in my usual fashion I improvised and did my own thing.  I intended these cake pops to be pure cake, without any frosting inside, however, I had no choice in the matter after my 'pops' decided to collapse on me!  I had been told to allow my cakes to cook for 15 minutes then remove them, insert the cake pop stick and return to the oven for 10 minutes.  I do not recommend this method!

What I suggest is that you bake a cake 'normally' in a cake tin and follow this method:

What you need:

Cake: (Makes about 7" round cake)
4 oz butter (softened)
4 oz sugar
4 oz self raising flour
2 eggs
Vanilla essence

Can of frosting (you don't need the full can)
Wilton chocolate drops in a variety of colours
Cake pop sticks
Cake cases
Anything else you want to use to decorate!

1.  Make the cake batter.
*Cream the sugar and butter together, then beat in the eggs.  Stir in the flour and vanilla essence*

2.  Grease a cake tin or use cup cake cases, and cook at 160 - 180 degrees Celsius (350F) until the cake is spongy.  Leave to cool.
3.  Once the cake is cool, add it to a food processor and make cake crumbs.

I added colour burst batter bits in pink to my cake mixture!

4.  Add to a large bowl and combine with half a cup of frosting.  I chose Carmel apple flavour.
5.  Once a 'dough' has formed, roll into small rounds, these should be able to fit into a mini cake case.

6.  Melt your desired chocolate.  Using a cake pop stick make a hole into the cake ball, and then secure the cake pop stick in place with a little of the melted chocolate.  Leave to set.

7.  Once set, dip the cake pops into the melted chocolate.  Spin the pop around to get rid of unwanted chocolate (if there is such a thing), until the chocolate hardens.  Place back into the cake case until fully set.

 *if you wish to dip into edible glitter etc then do this whilst the chocolate is still a little gooey*
I ended up taking these into work and giving them to my colleagues, they went down pretty well!  Happy Valentines!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine peanut butter hearts

With Valentines day fast approaching, I'm starting to think of gift ideas.  Generally speaking my husband and I have never been fans of this holiday. Yes we buy each other a card and maybe have a meal, but thats about it.  However, this year we are going to Washington DC so I am pretty keen to make a few things in return, as it's the thought that counts right??! I have opted so far for hand made chocolates using his favourite chocolate, Dairy milk! I know these will go down a treat!

To make 10 heart shaped chocolates:

100g bar chocolate
1/8th cup smooth peanut butter
1/6th cup confectioners (icing) sugar

1.  Melt the chocolate in a pan over a low heat. I opt to put the chocolate into a glass jug and sit this in a water bath.  It is a lot harder to burn chocolate this way.  It also helps keep chocolate melted whilst you prepare the centers.

2.  Half fill your mold with the melted chocolate ensuring all the sides are covered. Leave to set.

3.  In a small bowl combine the peanut butter and icing sugar until a smooth paste forms.  Roll into 10 malted milk sized balls.

4.  Place a peanut butter ball into the chocolate mould and shape to fit.

5.  Cover with more melted chocolate and place in the fridge to set.

6.  Remove from the mould and enjoy with a loved one!

This recipe can be made any time of the year by using different moulds.  For a party treat these could be made in small cake cases.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ginger and lemongrass shrimp

I managed to leave work before 4 o'clock! An actual record for me! This meant I had time to have a quick tidy round and make something tasty for dinner.  I'm trying to eat less, having put a few pounds on at Christmas, and it seems to be working.  However, I am still all about flavour!  I'm often inspired to cook a meal around buying produce that is on offer.  I bought a huge bag of frozen shrimp (prawns) the other day on offer at half price and have had a few ideas of what to do with them.  The great thing about shrimp is that they cook very quickly, meaning you can have dinner prepared in under 15 minutes!  I have to say this is one of my favourite recipes and will probably now feature on my menu regularly!

What you will need (I made this for 2 and served with mushroom rice):

10 shrimp per person
1 head of broccoli
1 handful spinach
1 handful of bean sprouts
Mixture of mushrooms
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp lemongrass
1-2 tablespoons sweet chili jam
1 tsp crushed garlic

Raw ingredients

1.  Clean and de-vein the shrimp, then dry.  Heat a pan with a small amount of oil or cooking spray and place the shrimp into the pan.  Cook for 1-2 minutes then turn each shrimp over.

Half way through cooking
2.  Add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass and sweet chili jam to the pan and stir.  Ensure each shrimp is coated in the mixture.
3.  Add the broccoli to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Then add the mushrooms, cook for 1 minute, the beat sprouts for a further minute and then add the spinach for the last minute.
4.  Serve with rice or noodles.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Polar dip for Camp Sunshine

My new job has recently seen any of my spare time quickly gobbled up.  This means I have had a lot less time to sit down and write a blog post.  However, I have promised myself I need to do at least 1 a week, if not 2!

As some of you may know, I also decided to partake in 'dry January'.  I am happy to say I managed to make it, just!  So Saturday 1st of February was a day I was looking forward to, but also for a different reason.  Last year we watched several of or friends take the plunge into a local lake to raise money for a charity.  When they said they were doing it again this year, we definitely wanted to go and show our support, especially following all of the recent cold weather, they needed the support!  The charity they decided to raise the money for was Camp Sunshin.  Camp Sunshine is a non-profit retreat and camp located on the shore of Sebago Lake, Maine that provides children with life-threatening illnesses and their immediate families hope for the future, as well as immediate help in dealing with a child's chronic illness. The camp is currently the only program in the United States that aids in lightening the impact of a life-threatening illness on a person's entire immediate family, not just the person with the illness.  If you would like to donate, doinations can be easily made by clicking on the link below:


The rest of the afternoon, as you can imagine was spent socialising! I would put a few pictures up but, well maybe they are best kept out of reach! 

The trio of brave polar plungers

Roughtly 6 inches of ice was cut out with a chainsaw so they could jump in!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Melting moments

Most of Northern Virgina has been struck with more snow over the last few days, and that has mean snow days!  My baking was actually inspired by the snow this time, I decided to make melting moments, as ironically, it doesn't look like the snow is going anywhere fast!  These sweet treats are a mixture of a cake and a cookie...

Coconut melting moments

What you will need to make 15 melting moments:
4 oz of butter or margarine
3 oz sugar
6 oz self raising flour
1 egg
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Decicated coconut

1.  Heat the oven to 340°F and grease 1 large or 2 baking sheets.
2.  In a bowl cream the butter and sgar together using a wooden spoon, until fluffy.
3.  Add the egg and vanilla essence and beat together.
4.  Sieved the flour into the mixture a little at a time and stir together using a metal spoon.

5.  Once the mixtre is fully stirred, roll  'ping pong' ball sized rounds in your palms.  Then roll into the coconut and place on the baking sheet. *Spread these ot well as they do grow in size*

6.  Cut a glace cherry in half and place half on top of the ball and squish down a little.

7.  Place in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes or unitl slightly golden.