Coffee Loaf Cake with Mocha Fudge Frosting

I think you’re supposed to make simnel cake for Easter, but that’s always seemed terribly un-chocolatey for such a chocolate-filled occasion to me.

I am without an oven at the moment, owing to the ongoing kitchen renovation, but I thought it might be fun to post this cake from last year, which never made it onto the blog, in case you’re looking for a recipe full of chocolately goodness for this Easter weekend.

ND5_0661The recipe comes from Olive Magazine (here). Generally I thought the recipe was pretty good although the frosting was a little generous in quantity and perhaps a touch too sweet. I think you could probably reduce the quantity by 25% and it would still be delicious. The recipe also didn’t include the mini chocolate eggs, which are a must for Easter!

Coffee loafI’ve started using loaf tin liners from Poundland (£1 for 25) when my baking needs to be transported and they’re so much easier than faffing around with greaseproof paper.

Mocha frosting

Decadent and delicious… enjoy!

PS for previous Easter chocolate fun… see 2016, 2015 and 2014

Kitchen Reno Ready Meals Review

Since we ripped out our old kitchen, ready to do the various DIY tasks required for the new one, we’ve been living a bit chaotically.  Once we’re straightened out a little more (i.e not washing up in the bath) we’ll be able to try out the oven function on the new microwave, but for now, it’s all about the ready meals. Firstly let me say straight off that ready meals are far from thrifty. At full price they’re eye watering. Even at half price like all of those featured in this post, they still cost a pretty penny, but needs must!

I thought it might be fun to do a few little mini reviews of the meals I thought were the best bang for my buck. This week, I shopped at Sainsbury’s, so everything below can be bought there. I try to stick to a low saturated fat diet so all of these meals are from the ‘My Goodness!’ range.

Sainsbury’s My Goodness! Creamy Haddock Risotto, £2 – 4/5

This was pretty good and creamy as promised. My only criticism was that it could have done with a few more peas, otherwise this was very satisfying.

Sainsbury’s My Goodness! Chilli Prawn Linguine – 4/5

The pasta tasted fresh and the tomato sauce was full of flavour, It was a shame that the prawns were a bit rubbery, otherwise this was pretty good!

Sainsbury’s My Goodness! Tasty Mediterranean Vegetable Risotto – 4/5

This was a good balance of veg to rice and was well flavoured; I’ve been impressed at how none of the meals are bland, but this is the only one that manages that with a salt content that still falls into the ‘green’ category.

Sainsbury’s Katsu Chicken Curry – 5/5

This was my favourite of the range, the curry had real flavour to it and tasted creamy and like it ought to be bad for you! The chicken was tender and the rice wasn’t completely plain and generic as I’ve found some ready meal rices to be.

I have a big appetite and the portions of these meals are relatively small, but they were surprisingly filling, given that they all have under 450 calories. I’ll definitely be heading back to Sainsbury’s to try out the rest of the range.

Here’s hoping that if you’re having ready meals this week, it’s for convenience reasons, rather than chaotic ones!

Chocolate Truffles – Advent 9/24

Day 9/24 -Chocolate truffles

Chocolate Truffles

I always think home-made gifts are the nicest, where time allows. As a chocolate-lover, one of the best presents I can give or receive is home made truffles.

If you’re feeling flush, they’re best with proper minimum 70% cocoa  but if not, a 30p 100g bar of dark chocolate from any of the supermarkets will do just fine!


Ingredients:

200g dark chocolate
100ml double cream

Method:

  1. Gently heat 100ml double cream in a non-stick saucepan
  2. Add the chocolate broken in to pieces and stir until melted
  3. Allow to cool completely (it may need to go in the fridge, depending on the room temperature)
  4. Scoop into balls – you can use a melon baller for this, but I find it easier to scoop a ball out with a teaspoon and roll with my hands
  5. Chill in the fridge overnight
  6. Serve in tiny cake cases and pretty boxes as Christmas gifts

Mince Pies – Advent 3/24

Day 3/24 – Mince pies

Mince pies are possibly my favourite Christmas food (sorry yule log, it was a close run thing).

Mince pies

To make mine more thrifty, I buy my mincemeat just after Christmas when it’s all reduced (as it usually has a long enough sell by date to get through to the following year). I like them to be classic, with shortcrust pastry, as per the recipe below, but go wild with puff pastry or even filo – this recipe looks delicious.

Ingredients:
225g cold butter, diced
350g plain flour
100g golden caster sugar
280g mincemeat
2 tbsp of milk
Icing sugar, to dust

Mince pies

1. To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour, then mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt. Combine the pastry into a ball, adding a tablespoon of milk if necessary to bring the dough together, although it should remain firm. Knead briefly.

2. Preheat the oven the 200℃ (180℃ for fan ovens)/400℉/Gas Mark 6 and grease 18 holes of two shallow muffin trays.

3. Roll the dough out on a floured board to around half a centimetre in depth and, using a cookie cutter slightly larger than the muffin tin circles, cut out 18 bases and press them into the tins.

4. Fill each pastry base with a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat.

5. Gather up the remaining dough from the bases, roll out to the same depth as previously and this time use a cookie cutter around the size of the muffin tin holes to make the tops. Use stars for extra Christmas points

They can be frozen before baking, so you can make them in advance of the big day. Serve warm, preferably with lots of cream/brandy butter/other extravagant accompaniment.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

I was very sceptical about whether a chocolate cake with no eggs and no butter would work, but I love a challenge! I am pleased to say that not only did it rise beautifully, but it tasted deliciously moist too. This recipe is a keeper as the lack of butter and eggs make it super thrifty and it was really quick and easy to make.

Eggs and butter free choc cake

I mostly followed this recipe, although I used self-raising flour when I think the recipe intended plain and chocolate soya milk because that was what was on offer at the time ;). I’m loving the whole website, which is full of inspiring recipes and gives the measurements in grams as well as cups – hallelujah!

This cake would make a great plain base for a chocolate ganache or buttercream icing – if you need an extra chocolate dose – or I can vouch for its yumminess served warm with vanilla ice cream. Best of all, the half of this delicious cake that I managed not to eat right away is now sliced up and in my freezer, ready to defrost and enjoy when I have a chocolate craving!

Happy baking!

Protein Balls

Let’s talk about balls. Specifically protein balls. Ummm £2 for a single ball… who the heck has the money for that?

I searched for a recipe and found that they seemed to contain a multitude of expensive ingredients (flax seeds and chia seeds, anyone?), so I gave up on that and set about creating my own and the results were pretty good, if I say so myself!

Thrifty protein balls

Ingredients (makes 8 balls)

1 scoop (30g) vanilla protein powder
2 scoops (60g) oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp peanut butter (or if you’re allergic to peanuts like I am, then almond butter but be warned, it’s twice the price!)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp raisins
Approx 1 tbsp cows/soya/almond milk

Method

  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together
  2. Add enough milk to bind the ingredients until the mixture holds together
  3. Roll into balls and pop in the fridge to set

I’ve been enjoying these after the gym for an energy boost. I hope you enjoy them too!

Oatmeal Protein Balls

Stay at Home Brunch

Going out for brunch is all the rage (see here for the best in the Cotswolds), but when you’re trying to save money, brunching at home is the thriftier option.

Griddle pan waffle

My new favourite is Jamie Oliver’s Griddle Pan Waffles (ignore the 3 star rating – just cook half of the batter at a time or it becomes impossibly unwieldy).

Serve with some fresh fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup, put on the Jazz Brunch Playlist on Spotify and brew some coffee. Best of all, you don’t even need to change out of your pyjamas 😉

PS If you’re feeling flush and want to go out for your waffles, I highly recommend He Says She Waffles – not only for the amazing selection, but also the hilarious name!

Roasted Butternut Squash Seeds

Butternut squash seeds

Waste not, want not, when cooking with a butternut squash and bake the seeds for a wholesome snack.

1. Scoop out seeds from the squash

2. Wash seeds and pat dry

3. Place on a baking tray covered with baking parchment, spray with Fry Light Olive Oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

4. Bake for 10 minutes or so*

* The seeds will obviously cook quicker at higher temperatures. Mine were done at 180℃/Gas Mark 6 as that’s what my dinner required, but if you do at a lower temperature, they will be a bit less crunchy. I like mine both ways 🙂

5. Enjoy a delicious healthy snack, that you might otherwise have thrown away/composted! I love mine straight out of the oven, but they’re a great option for snacking on the go too.

Squash seeds

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

I’m willing to admit that this a slightly tenuous link to being thrifty, but we were given a box of delicious chocolate-coated coffee beans that have been just waiting in the cupboard for the right recipe to come along. As one of my 2016 goals is to use it or lose it, I decided it was high time to find a use for them and embarked on these Chocolate Espresso cupcakes from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.

I love chocolate and I love coffee, so these were pretty much perfect for me and although they’re decadent, they’re also quite mini-sized to lessen the guilt. Please give them a go, you won’t regret it!

Nigella Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy Easter – Nutella Swirls

This morning is off to a chocolatey start with these brioche Nutella swirls:

Brioche Nutella Swirls

 

I found the recipe whilst fancifully browsing Nutella recipes here. I omitted the maple glaze (although I’m sure it would be delicious) preferring the simplicity of brioche and Nutella for Easter breakfast and they sure didn’t disappoint.

Nutella Swirls

 

This recipe requires a bit of patience whilst waiting for the dough to rise and then prove, but I think the end result is well worth the wait!

Happy Easter!