Sunday, 1 November 2015

Mum's Apple tree

My mum has 2 apple trees in her garden. One is an eating apple tree (who's small sweet apples are a hit with my 5 year old son) & the other is a cooking apple tree.

This year the cooking apple tree has yielded loads of lovely apples which I have been making the most of! 

I have made apple cakes before & often found them a bit stodgy and dense so I decided to seek out a new recipe. I came across a BBC Good Food recipe for Dorset Apple cake.

This recipe was really tasty and light. Perfect warm with custard & also went down well with a cup of tea the following day when a friend popped over for a catch up. 

It was such a success I almost forgot to get a photo! 

Following on from the success of the Dorset apple cake, I decided to try something similar with cupcakes for a family Halloween party.

The recipe this time was for toffee apple cupcakes and was found at Red Online.

Now, the recipe here was not easy to follow & was riddled with typos. The writer had not taken the care to split up the ingredients into the different elements of the cupcakes which led to some confusion while I was baking. The quantity of frosting was also double what I used (& as a result I now have a large bowl of green icing in my fridge!). I had planned to pipe grass with the green cream cheese frosting but it was too soft & would not have held its shape. Instead I used a pallet knife to ice the cakes (rather rustically) & topped them with card gravestones and witches legs. Mum made the cake toppers for me & I think they looked good! 

The cakes were a hit & devoured quickly.

Having just a handful of apples left that needed eating up, tonight I decided to do some more baking. My barriers - I've run out of eggs and butter. 

I found a recipe for shortcrust pastry online ( and substituted the butter for margarine. Once I had lined the dish I filled it with peeled, slices apples coated with cinnamon and light brown sugar, and poured over the remaining caramel sauce (left over from the Halloween cupcakes) which I had added salt to.

It looks a bit messy but it tasted lovely with warm custard. 

The tinned caramel sauce is delish (despite it being Nestle!)

I should start researching more apple recipes now as I know mum still has a massive bag of apples sat waiting in her conservatory! 🍏

N 🍏

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Naomi's Nutribullet Review

I am currently at home & off work recovering from ankle surgery. To cheer myself up I decided to treat myself to a gadget that I have had my eye on for a while - a Nutribullet.

The Nutribullet 

Like most people, I own a few kitchen gadgets. This includes both a blender and a juicer.

My blender is just a cheap supermarket blender. I use it regularly for blitzing soups and smoothies. It is basic but works ok, struggles with things like tomato skins in soups. The blades are integrated into the jug which makes it difficult to clean & hard to make smaller quantities of things (like dips etc). 

My juicer (also a cheap version from the supermarket) has been out of its box maybe twice since I brought it around 5 years ago. It is messy and difficult to clean. I also found the preparation of the fruit and vegetables off putting, not to mention the fact that lots of apples go into one glass of fresh apple juice. 

The Nutribullet is marketed as a "Nutrition Extractor" that utilises the whole of the fruit, vegetable, seed or nut. The high powered blades are designed to blitz up things such as spinach, cored apples and nuts to make healthy "Nutriblasts" which can be used for breakfast, lunch or snacks on the go or re fulling after a work out session. 

The Nutribullet is widely available and comes in various varieties (different power options, colours and attachments). The products (on range from approximately £50 - £150. 

I opted for a 12 piece set and a 600 watt motor. The set had lids for the carry mugs which I thought was a must... It also had some Nutriblast supplements included within the package which I thought would be nice to try. 

Here is the link

I ordered the Nutribullet the day before I had my ankle operation and it arrived a few days later. I was keen to try it out. The Nutribullet comes with a recipe book with some flavour combinations for you to try.

This is a nice place to start, however I decided to see what was in my fridge and make up my own recipe. 

(There is also a wealth of recipes online).

Rhubarb, spinach, pear, ginger, almonds and honey.

Four days post op and feeling a bit sick, with help from a friend - I used my Nutribullet to make my first "Nutriblast". The ginger was just what I needed to settle my stomach & the whole process was quick and easy. The "Nutriblast" was healthy and tasty. The flavour was fruity but not too sweet (probably due to the spinach).

The next "Nutriblast" was a bit of an experiment... 


Frozen banana 




Chia seeds


Add some water...

Whizz it all up... 

This was also very nice & tasted really healthy. It was not as sweet as the last one as it had more vegetables but I didn't mind that. I could have added more honey to make it sweeter. The browny colour was off putting though.

This morning I tried a fruit milkshake style "Nutriblast" for my breakfast...

Blackberries, raspberries, banana & soya milk.

Unfortunately this happened...

Perhaps I hadn't tightened the blade into the jug properly... Only a little had seeped into the base & I managed to get it clean although it took me a few minutes (balancing on one leg).


The texture of the "Nutriblast" is so much better than the texture of smoothies made with a blender. 

The photo on the left is a blueberry and banana smoothie made with a blender - the photo on the right is today's "Nutriblast".

All in all, I am impressed with the Nutribullet. It is quick & easy to use (especially useful for me at the moment). It's also easy to clean (providing it doesn't leak). The high powered blades make light work of fruit and vegetable skin, nuts and seeds & produce tasty drinks with a nice smooth texture. The cups have lids and handles slowing the drinks to be transported well (again, this is helpful for me at the moment). 

The Nutribullet user guide also says that it is suitable for making soups and dips too. I am looking forward to trying this out!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Naomi - 10 years in cakes

Connor turns 1 
Disastrous Victoria sponge

Above is possibly the first cake I ever made. A dry, crumbly & burnt Victoria sponge that I slaved over for my son's first birthday. It was a mess. I think it's fair to say that I am not a natural baker. Dispite this, it hasn't stopped me from trying.

Over the years I have gone on to make an aray of birthday cakes for my children  & family. Here are some of my favourite...

A chocolate panda cake for a friends birthday

A gluten, soya & dairy free sponge bob square pants cake for my friends son.

A four layered Spider-Man cake for my baby brother.

A chocolate mousse cake Hummingbird Bakery recipe - my son's cake last year (the tastiest cake I have ever made in my opinion)

Although I have pulled off some lovely cakes... There have been some total disasters. The most memorable one was this...

An attempt at a flourless chocolate cake.

A massive gooey mess (it tastes fantastic though). I still haven't worked out what went wrong! 

Connor turns 10
Lemon, white chocolate & raspberry cake

For Connor's birthday this year, I decided to try my own adaptation of a tried & tested recipe...

I made a lemon cake from a recipe that my mum gave me years ago & it has always been a hit.

To make it a bit more special, I added some flavours which I thought might work. 

Once the cake was cool, I split it into half. Inside I started with a thin layer of lemon curd, this was topped with some white chocolate buttercream (the recipe is here, followed by some halved fresh raspberries and then sandwiched with a layer of raspberry jam. 

The cake was then coated in a thick layer of the white chocolate buttercream & decorated with fresh raspberries, large milky way buttons & white chocolate stars.

Happy birthday 

The flavour combination was lovely although the cake could have benefited from being a bit thicker to allow for a more even distribution of topping/filling to cake. If I was planning to make this cake again I would double the size of the cake mix to allow for this. 

Overall the cake was a hit. The birthday boy gave it 10 out of 10!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Naomi's Lego Star Wars themed cake.

My baby brother turned 8 this week. As is customary, I was tasked with making him a cake. This year he opted for a Lego Star Wars cake (last year it was Spider-Man).

I trawled the web looking for inspiration & realised that I had to get my hands on some Star Wars mini figures to adorn my sponge cake. I looked on eBay and Amazon & I was shocked at the price (there were cheaper ones available to ship from China - they would have arrived mid Feb). Luckily I had a brainwave & contacted a friend who works for Lego & they were able to find a collection of characters for me. 

My bother requested a plain Victoria sponge with strawberry jam & buttercream. This was coated in navy buttercream instead of sugar paste. Although sugar paste often has a cleaner finish. In my opinion, buttercream is tastier!

I used a novelty silicone ice cube mild to shape red, blue, yellow and green sugar paste into Lego bricks & decorated the cake with these and the Star Wars figures.

It might not have been the most creative cake ever but it was a hit with the birthday boy and his party guests! 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Packed lunch - Salad

As most people are, I am feeling a bit gross after consuming my body weight in Christmas pudding. As Christmas is well and truly over, it's time to put down the trifle and eat some salad!

I have been a bit stuck for ideas of tasty & interesting meals to take to work keep me going on a 12 hour shift & to stop me snacking on the abundance of biscuits, chocolates and toast. Here is one of my favourite.

Roasted butternut squash & feta salad

The butternut squash was roasted in calorie controlled spray with a small amount of salt & pepper as well as some paprika.

Once cooked, allow to cool thoroughly and place on leaves. I have used baby spinach only here although I think rocket would also work well.

Crumble in (reduced fat) feta cheese and chopped walnuts & drizzle with balsamic vinegar.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Post - Holidays Salad

Here's a photo of the delicious salad I made just as I was emerging from the New Year holidays and getting prepared to go back to work.  I wanted to make something that made use of what was left over from Christmas and here's what I had:

The only thing I bought was the mushrooms , which were pretty much the only vegetable for sale in the local shop on the 2nd January.

I sliced the mushrooms and cooked them in a bit of oil and a pinch of Marigold bouillon powder, adding the red pepper later. The pear was perfectly ripe - I don't think I've ever had Blue Shropshire cheese before ; it tasted amazing with the pear. The nuts were just cracked open and scattered on top - couldn't be bothered to chop them up, so they look a bit odd! I did use a bit of  honey and mustard dressing from a bottle.
Cute but impractical 
I really enjoyed eating this salad because the cheese made it more substantial and the warm mushrooms made it quite comforting but there was also a bit of fruit and veg in there to make it seem a step away from the alcohol and chocolate diet I've been following!

I'd like to  link up with No Croutons Required, hosted by Lisa's Kitchen  and Tinned Tomatoes .

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Only Vegetarian at the Party

Close up of  my Red Pepper and Lentil Jalousie 

I was at a New Year's Eve party last night, at my brother's and, due to sickness and domestic crisis, found myself the only veggie. My brother had made two pots of chilli; one meat, one veggie , and so it fell to me to eat plenty of the veggie one! He'd asked me to make and bring a pie that he's had many times at my house. It's a real crowd- pleaser , even for quite hardened meat-eaters. I got it from the Christmas 2005 edition of BBC GF Vegetarian magazine, and the page is all torn and stained, as so many favourite recipes are. Here's the recipe:

Red pepper & lentil jalousie

Serves 6 – according to the recipe but if you are serving as part of a buffet, you can feed double that.
1  tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
140g/5ozred lentils
300ml/1/2pt vegetable stock
1 tbsp sundried tomato paste
1/2 tsp yeast extract
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
85g/3oz fresh breadcrumbs
15g pack coriander, chopped
5OOg pack puff pastry, thawed if frozen
1 medium egg, beaten

1 Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion
and celery for 3 – 4 mins until softened. Stir in the
lentils, vegetable stock, sundried tomato paste and
yeast extract, then bring to the boll. Cover and
simmer over a very low heat for 15-20 mins until
nearly all the liquid has been absorbed. Allow to
cool slightly. Stir in the red pepper, breadcrumbs,
coriander and seasoning.
2 Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Cut the
pastry in half and roll out one piece on a lightly
floured surface to an 18cm x 32cm/7in x12 1/2in
rectangle. Place it on a lightly oiled baking sheet
and spoon the red lentil mixture down the centre,
leaving a 2.5cm/1 in border-Brush the pastry edges
with beaten egg.
3 Roll out the remaining pastry to make a 20cm
x 34cm/8in x 13'/2in rectangle. Fold lightly in half
lengthways and cut slits through the folded edge,
2.5cm/1 in apart, but leaving a 2.5cm/1 In border.
Unfold the pastry and place over the red lentil
mixture to cover. Press together the edges of the
pastry to seal. Knock up the edges using a knife,
held horizontally, to mark flaky layers (this helps to
seal it and make it rise evenly). Flute the edges of
the pastry and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for30-35 mins until golden.