Creme Egg Brownies

Tiny Creme Egg

Tiny Creme Egg

There’s some things that social media make look far far easier than they prove to be in real life.  Such as curled hair using straighteners (Clue’s in the name.  Mere mortals can’t make something designed to straighten curlify.  Fact) and French manicures that don’t in actual fact look as if you’ve dipped the tips of your fingernails in tippex.   Creme Egg Brownies fit into this category.  In theory, what is there not to love about them.  They celebrate the season of gluttony and the abandonment of any vestiges of the New Year New You healthy eating plans and then raise the bar to the next level.  Correct me if I’m wrong (actually don’t because I’m menstrual and don’t take criticism well at the best of times) but I think the Cadbury’s Creme Egg is only big in Britain.  Essentially chocolate, filled with icing.  In an Egg shape.  Who doesn’t like them?  No-one.  It’s possibly on some dubious ‘Are you British enough?’ type test beloved by the Daily Mail.  Setting aside the great Creme Egg debacle of 2015 – What?  The chocolate may have changed?  Crisis.  Let’s panic.  Oh they taste exactly the flipping same.  Panic over.  Yum

I love a Creme Egg.  I love that on about Boxing Day someone will post a photo of one on Instagram with a hugely miffed caption like ‘too early *disgruntled emoticon*’.  I love them but actually they’re a bit shit.  That’s the true British way.  We love things which are essentially a bit shit.  It is pretty bloody hard to unwrap a Creme Egg.  The wrappers are always at least a bit sticky and impossible to remove in one piece.  So you end up with a load of tiny bits of foil stuck to your increasingly sticky fingers.  About half way through a normal size one you start feeling a bit nauseous.  But unlike normal chocolate there is literally no way of leaving a Creme Egg half munched.  You can’t put it down as the filling will ooze out everywhere and it’s the stickiest substance known to man, second only to congealed Weetabix.  You can’t wrap it back in its wrapper because, as we’ve already established, that is in a hundred tiny slivers of sticky unusable foil.  So you eat all of it in sticky mouthfuls then feel a bit sick.  The advent of the mini-Creme Egg seemed to solve this but in fact unwrapping those little feckers is even more fiddly and sticky than the normal ones, and because they’re so so tiny you have to do more unwrapping and use a whole packet of wet wipes to de-stickify your fingers mid binge and then your scoffing tastes a bit of wet wipes.  Yack.

So, Pinterest and IG are full of Creme Egg Brownie photos.  But be warned.   They are not as easy to make as it would appear. The first time I made them, and I had taken advice from one of my friends who always has perfect baking results, although they tasted lush there was quite a lot of swearing, mess and reject brownies.

One.   It is REALLY BLOODY HARD TO SLICE A CREME EGG IN HALF.   The first time I tried it lots broke. Lots didn’t have the white/yolk look. Lots just looked as if they were just a big fat congealed mass of icing. Two. When you put all of the ingredients in the mixer with cocoa powder on the top and then let your 4 year old switch the mixer on (at full speed naturally) the whole kitchen will be coated with a fine dusting of brown powder. Which will stick to all the bloody Creme Egg foil which is lurking around. Also using full size Creme Eggs means that there’s kind of too much Egg to Brownie ratio and each slice was massive.
I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly and realised that if you dip your knife in a jug of hot water straight from the kettle in between each slice of Creme Egg then it will slice easier. I’ve also used mini Creme Eggs.

This is my tried and tested Brownie recipe.  Well my current favourite.  I only posted a brownie recipe on here  for a snickers brownie a while ago but I’ve found they’re nicer if you use some brown sugar and vanilla so this recipe is slightly different.

4 eggs

275g Stork or butter

150g Caster Sugar

225g soft brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

75g cocoa powder

100g self-raising flour

100g milk chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 160c (in my fan oven) and line a baking tin with baking parchment or the silicone liners that all the pound shops have.

Mix all the ingredients together – except for the creme eggs (I do this in the Kitchen Aid mixer but you could do it by hand) and pour into the lined tray and level over.

Bake for 25 minutes and THEN ADD THE CREME EGGS (they’ll burn if you put them in from the start) which you’ve cut in half. Just push them into the hot mixture in whatever pattern you want and then return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until the brownies are cooked.

Remove from the oven and let the brownies cool in the tray and then cut into squares.

I find that brownies, including these ones, freeze dead well and defrost quickly so usually make enough to eat some and then pop the rest in a container in the freezer.

Enjoy!

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Snickers Brownies & Home Alone

I’m home alone this week.  Picture me in that classic Macauley Culkin pose of a scream while holding my face in my hands.  But so far no-one has tried to break in and steal anything (although clearly just by typing that I will now be up half the night with nightmares!) and the only booby traps have been me falling over on yet more bloody conkers on the playroom floor.  My husband works away a lot.  He always has done, since before we had kids,  in fact before he met me.   Pre-kids it never bothered me at all – in fact my job meant that I was away a lot and working long hours.  Since we have kids – although we are grateful for his salary and I appreciate how hard he works – the days/weeks/hours spent working away from home are frankly pretty hard on all of us.  His job is feast or famine.  Either he is away loads or he’s here working at home – which isn’t perfect with small children in the house either.  So anyway, I will spare you the full CV of our lives but all you need to know for the purposes of this blog post is that he’s away this week.  Not here.  In London.  I am here.  So are the kids.  So technically I am not home alone, but I am home without another person who doesn’t think that goolie bumps isn’t the best entertainment ever. (See this post for more details on goolie bumps)

*disclaimer to be inserted here – yes I am aware that there are many single mommas out there – these wonderful ladies don’t have a husband riding the London Express back on a Friday night bearing flowers (hopefully) and a willingness (hopefully) to deal with small people.  Ladies, you rock.  I have the utmost admiration.  In fact I have a suspicion that you are actually super-women who have special powers.  My hat is well and truly off to you.

There are good things about him being away.  These are that I can crank the central heating up without him moaning, I can watch whatever I want on telly and that I can arrange for whatever internet purchases I have made to be delivered while he is not here.  That’s about it. *oh and his salary and job security and all that other shizzle too*

We are trying to declutter at the moment and I am drowning in a quagmire of ebay auctions, packaging tape and charity shop collections.  How on earth we have quite so much baby stuff is entirely beyond me.  I think someone snuck it into the house and just put it straight into the loft.  I don’t even remember using half of it.  I was trying to demonstrate the double buggy in its pram/toddler setting to my friend who was buying it last week and I had no memory whatsoever of how to put it together.  In fact my memories of the first year of Mitch’s life are very vague and fuzzy.  That’s what having a husband who works away and a non-sleeping baby will do to you.  Good job I took lots of photos otherwise I would strongly suspect that I was actually in a coma for 2 years.   In many ways I suppose I was. A baby vomit stained, sleep deprived, walking zombie state.  Anyway, I am sorting out baby stuff to get rid of and as fast as I can get stuff out of the loft the boys are greeting it like long lost friends and bemoaning that we can’t sell it as they neeeeeed it, it’s their faaaaaaavourite.  Mitch, who is 4 next month, spent Sunday afternoon curled up on a baby bouncer – which he had positioned under a baby gym, drinking water from a baby bottle and saying ‘Ga Ga’ a lot.

It’s undoubtedly easier coping at home alone now they’re older.  For a start, there’s chunks of time when they’re at school at the same time so I get chance to catch up on chores/sleep/exercise/feel vaguely human again.  Last night after answering yet another dumb question from a prospective ebay buyer ‘err no it’s not PINK you can tell that from the PHOTO you utter DIMWIT, if you wanted a PINK one why have you spent an hour writing me questions and getting me to photograph it from 20 different angles.  Whatever angle I take it from it’s still not going to turn it SODDING PINK you knob’ I was putting the offending article (a buggy if you’re interested. If you’d like to buy it £45 and it’s yours.  It’s not pink) in the downstairs cupboard and trapped my hand in the door.  Bloody hell it hurt.  I took myself into the lounge and bit on a cushion, trying not to scream and/or be sick and my little Mitch came in.  I sent him off to get me some tissues and after an examination a junior house officer would be proud of ‘mummy, it is making blood on your hand’ he wandered off to the kitchen.  Then wandered off to the garden ‘Corey, Corey come and see mummy, she is making blood’ and Corey appeared to give his second opinion that yes indeed there was blood.  Still no fecking tissue though.  Then Mitch decided he needed a poo.  And that I then inevitably had to go and wipe his arse with a bleeding hand.  THAT scenario in a nutshell is why it’s crap when husband is away.

Obviously being woken up in the night AGAIN for hours on end was also less than great.  Add to that my great idea of being Sober for October in aid of my liver Macmillan and then the discovery that on the VERY FIRST NIGHT my husband had cheated and been to the pub in London and I think we can all guess what kind of fragile mental state I am in.

Another great thing about him being away is that we communicate largely through the medium of Social Media while he is AWOL.  *hi Dan, hope you’re liking this post ‘insert emoji that is wife waving to husband in an endearingly sarcastic way’* he learns of our children’s trials and tribulations through instagram and we have semi-public facebook spats when I posted  a link on facebook to this article   about being a stay at home mum and how it benefits the whole family not just the one staying at home – I liked a bit in it where she says she bakes pies to prove she has value to society.  I took that to a whole new level last week – I decided to host a Macmillan coffee morning and went into a baking overdrive that would have made Mary Berry’s perfectly coiffed head spin around and drop off.  In one day I baked snickers brownies, flapjacks, 2 massive banana loaves, 2 different types of quiche, labelled pots of home made lemon curd and finished off with a Victoria sponge.  Phew.  Just typing it makes me feel tired.  The event was great – my instagram friends and my school mum friends all muddled together nicely and we raised £120 for charity though.  I briefly basqued in the glory of being the uber-baker and then collapsed into a sugar and flour stained slump.

The snickers brownies sent my lovely IG friends into a frenzy of peanutty chocolatey lust.  I don’t think I’ve ever had so many likes on a photo so flipping quickly.  A week later and I am still getting some slightly desperate requests for the recipe.  Calm down dears.  It’s just a brownie with some snickers on top.  It is, in the manner of all things that are both sweet and slightly savoury, instantly addictive.   Just warning you.  In fact – I am entirely blaming you for the fact that I now really really want a brownie and am having to sit on my hands to stop myself from making another batch.  I obviously mean that figuratively rather than literally otherwise how the hell could I type this?

Snickers Brownies

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1 snickers bar cut into very thin slices

peanut butter – I have never measured this – as you can tell from the above photo I just tend to put little spoonfuls on the top, about 15 that are 1/2 tsp each one?  It’s up to you

100g chocolate chips

275g softened butter or margarine (I am a big Stork fan in  cakes)

375g caster sugar

4 eggs

100g SR flour

75 g cocoa powder

pre heat oven to 160 c for fan ovens -and then line a baking tray, I use some of the silicone sheets to do this but you can use greaseproof paper or even foil.

As with all of my favourite recipes you just mix all the ingredients together and give them a good old stir/mix in the mixer.  Pour into the lined baking tray and smooth over so it covers evenly, then decorate the top with slivers of snickers bar and dollops of peanut butter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.  Keep an eye on it as it might start to brown too much on top, if it’s looking like it’s going that way then cover loosely with foil for rest of cooking time.  It should be crusty on the top but still a bit gooey underneath.

Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares.

Then stuff it in your face until you feel a bit sick.  Right, if anyone needs me I’m off to Tesco to buy some more snickers to make another batch.

Slow cooked Boston Baked Bean and Sausage stew

This is basically slightly posher baked beans with sausages in.  Which I used to like as a kid but now I can’t help but feel somewhat suspicious of what is in those teeny tiny frankfurter sausages.  If it was indeed pigs that died to make those sausages I really don’t think they were happy pigs snuffling round a farm being fed turnips lovingly by a ruddy faced farmer called Andrew.  I’m not saying that is exactly how the pigs which made my sausages grew up.  I’m not sure that they were particularly happy about a trip to the abbatoir to be turned into tasty sausagey goodness for my eating pleasure.  But hopefully they were reasonably OK up until that point.  I used organic sausages to make this.  But of course, any bangers will do.

Increasingly I’m getting more into buying organic fruit and veg.  Of course, I do have concerns about the environment and animal welfare but I have to be honest my main reason for buying it is the taste.  I’ve pretty much been consistently disappointed with supermarket meat and veg recently. I’m lucky in that I live near an excellent green grocer and a farm shop.  I’ve also started getting an Abel & Cole veg box delivered.

Last time I dabbled with getting an organic veg box was when I was weaning Corey, about 5 years ago.  I was determined that he would have the best most tasty baby food ever.  He enjoyed a varied diet of the cream of the veg box crop and we ended up eating a lot of kale.  And kale wasn’t even trendy then.  The only person who even pretended to like it then was Gwyneth Paltrow.  Nowadays the world and his healthy wife are scoffing kale and making smoothies from it and pretending they like it.  I have been really impressed with the Abel & Cole boxes though – in a month of getting them we have used every last thing each week without many extra trips to the supermarket or greengrocers and everything has been of the highest quality.  There seems to always be an offer on too so overall  I really don’t think it works out more expensive.  Obviously it does if you normally buy the more value ranges or shop in Lidl.  But for equivalent quality I think its not bad value at all.

Anyway, back to the sausage stew.  We actually ended up having this twice last week.  Once as a prototype version for just the two of us one night then at the weekend I made a huge vat of it for us and our friends who came round for dinner.  It was the perfect friends for supper dish – tasty, filling, not time critical and I served it with a crusty baguette sliced up and some runner beans from the garden.  I did make a kids version at the same time which was essentially the same but with less of the spices.

Like I say, this made a massive vat of the stuff – but we are all pretty greedy so it fed 4 adults and 4 kids with some leftovers.  Not many leftovers admittedly.  But if you want it to stretch further you could do some jacket spuds with it.  Or just be less greedy than us.

I think this would be a fab bonfire night meal.

 

Warming stew

Warming stew

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Recipe – Boston Baked Bean and Sausage Stew (FEEDS LOTS SO ADJUST QUANTITIES DOWN ACCORDINGLY)

As many sausages as you think you’ll need – I used about 16 (didn’t actually count them)

1 large onion roughly chopped

2 tins of baked beans

1 tin other beans (I used kidney beans)

Use the empty tin to fill up with cold water too

3 rashers of smoked bacon or a handful of smoked pancetta cubes

4 cloves of garlic

2 sticks of celery finely chopped

1 pepper chopped quite big

3 tbsp. tomato puree

3 tbsp. soft dark brown sugar

1 tbsp. Worcester sauce

3 tbsp. cider vinegar

1 tbsp. wholegrain mustard

1 bay leaf

bit of olive oil

 

I cooked all of this in my massive le creuset casserole dish.   I love it because you can brown things on the hob in it first – but if you don’t have one just use a frying pan then dump everything into a casserole dish.

Preheat oven to 165 mins.

Brown the sausages in the pan and set aside.  I had to do this in batches.

Fry the chopped onion and bacon for a couple of minutes.  Add the celery and pepper and fry for a minute.  Add all of the other ingredients (including the tin of water).

Give it a good old stir and then whack in the oven for around 90 minutes.  I then take the lid off and cook uncovered for about another 15 mins so that the sausages on the top get a good old colour on them.

The photos above are from when I made a smaller version for just us in the week – I stirred some spinach in just before serving.  I was going to do this when we had guests too but I had drunk Cava and so promptly forgot!

Enjoy

 

 

 

Indian Summer – Creamy curried sweet potato soup

I’m sure that the nature of holidays with children is well documented in the blogosphere.  Probably.  I’m a bit too lazy to actually go and look.  But as with all things online and parenting related I am finding that blogs fall into a few rather predictable patterns.  Many seem to be totally review focussed

* We went to [insert name of random resort] and it was all WONDERFUL (by that they mean free) and the kids had a FANTASTIC time because they had this SUPERB toy to play with that is loads better than ANY OTHER TOY EVER (because it was free) and although on the face of it you might assume that is just as pointless and plasticky as all other toys on the market and in fact that the kids didn’t like it as they hadn’t chosen it and it is not particularly pertinent to their interests, well if you assume that you’d be wrong.  No holiday is complete without one.  It kept the kids amused for at least 5 seconds.  And no, how very dare you suggest that I bribed the kids with haribo to get them to hold up the said (free) toy and smile as if all their teeny tiny Christmasses had come at once.  We all had a wonderful time with our free things and in fact life is wonderful [please PR folk give me more free stuff, more I tell you, I will never ever say a bad word about anything you care to send]*

Or the very very wholesome parenting blogs……..

*We spent the school holidays making spelt muffins and doing yoga together in fields during nature rambles*

Ideas for what to do in the school holidays abound.  Some of them great, some of them naff, some cheap, some stupidly expensive.  I started writing this on the very last day of the school holidays.  It was a strange limbo day as whilst it is officially the start of the school term the teachers feel the need for a day without children in school.  Personally I would have thought that children being there was a pre-requisite for the functionality of a school and that over 5 weeks of annual leave in one chunk would be more than enough to make sure that their classrooms were tidy and that they’d caught up with what they and their colleagues had done over the summer.  I can’t actually think of another job where you come back from holiday and then announce that you’ll come in to the office but won’t actually do the job you’re paid to for another couple of days thank you very much.  Sorry to my teacher friends…….. actually no, I’m not.  I know enough of you to know for a fact that inset days are a right old skive.

So, the school holidays are now officially over.  The teachers finally got their act together and let the kids go back to school and instagram and facebook have been full of shiny photos of children in shiny school uniforms holding up carefully written signs and pronouncing what they would like to be when they are older.  Status updates have veered between the tearful ‘oh I miss my baaaaaaabies, why have they grown up and left meeeeee’ and the ‘thank feck that ordeal of non-stop child entertainment is over and I can lie in a darkened room with a gin & tonic in a can and a family size bar of galaxy’.

Like I’ve said, I started writing a fortnight ago and it was meant to be a reflective piece about how we had spent the halcyon summer holidays.  Of course, real life intervened and husband got a stomach bug, both children got colds, I ran a 10k race (check me out!) and then I promptly got said cold.  So in between wiping snotty noses and using the entire Cheshire supply of dettol around the house there hasn’t been a whole lot of blogging (or indeed anything) time.  In fact the whole summer holiday thing seems like an entirely distant idea that may or may not have actually happened and may or may not have had, on the whole, more ups than downs.

Ups – we survived it, we saw lots of friends, the boys made a summer holiday plan of things they wanted to do and we ticked most things off it, we found lots of free activities to do, we had a lovely week in Norfolk and a wet week in Dorset and a visit to London, I went to Harrods, I drank wine or a suitable alcoholic equivalent every day for 6 weeks.

Downs – the boys learnt how to squabble and irritate each other big time, I was utterly exhausted for the majority of the holiday with what seemed like an inordinately large increase in shopping/cooking/ferrying around, I gave up even attempting to keep the house in any other state than terminally messy by the second week and it still looks like that now, my husband ate the cake I bought in Harrods, I drank wine or a suitable equivalent every day for 6 weeks and have continued this into September.

The dust is now settling, the boys are adjusting to new school routines, I am getting used to the varied schedule and whilst our livers are a little jaded our sniffles and coughs have abated to acceptable levels.  Autumn is as much of a time of new beginnings as Spring I guess.  I’m hoping that I will finally have the time to get cracking with writing my book, really carry on with getting fit and develop lots of healthy and yummy recipes. Who knows, I might even write coherent blog posts!

Naturally the same weather gods who think it’s hilarious to watch families shivering in cagoules and jeans in the drizzle on Bournemouth beach on bank holiday Monday think it’s pretty darn funny to crack open the sunshine once the kids are back in school.  So, although our heads say it’s Autumn and there’s things like conkers, apples and leaves on the ground – it’s also sunny and warm and not really Autumn food weather yet.

But in the interests of a halfway house I’ve cooked this soup for lunch.  It’s warming but still has that curry, exotic, sunny taste.  Hope you like it.  Well they do call this an Indian Summer, right????

Creamy curried sweet potato soup

Ingredients

 

1 onion chopped roughly

500g sweet potato peeled and chopped into medium size chunks

1 carrot peeled and chopped into similar size to sweet potato

100g red lentils

2tbsp of korma paste (I used waitrose own brand)

1.5 litres of hot water

50g creamed coconut (the dried kind that comes in a box) (or you could use a tin of coconut milk and reduce the water amount accordingly)

Salt and pepper to season

 

In a little oil fry off the onion for a few minutes then add the sweet potato and carrot and fry off for another couple of minutes.  Add the curry paste and cook for another minute or so.  Add the hot water, lentils and creamed coconut.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes (until the veg is cooked through)

 

I use a stick blender in the pan to whizz the soup smooth but you can use a food processor or any blender.

 

This makes loads of soup and it’s pretty filling so serves a lot of people.  Leftovers freeze well too.
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Crazy boys and slow cooker rice pudding recipe

My eldest is now 5 and a half. Since he started school in September there are so many things he has learnt to do. He can now dress himself, make choices about food, write more than his own name, follow instructions, play football, make a loom band bracelet, make jokes, chat endlessly, give great hugs, run for hours.

I have written that list in large part to remind myself that actually he’s pretty great – because flipping heck he is driving me INSANE recently. I don’t think that more than half an hour can be spent in his company without one or more of the following occurring. He knocks something or someone or even himself over. He kicks someone, something or even himself. He spills something. He cries. He goes into a vacant trance where you can stand in front of him screaming ‘do you want a biscuit or not?!?!?!? Just. ANSWER. MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE’ with absolutely no discernible effect. He fights with his brother. He comes whining to me about said fight. He speaks in a stupid baby voice saying stupid made up words. He uses the word ‘poo, nappy, goolie, bum, head, smelly’ in any given combination and then cracks up hysterically. He accidentally on purpose throws himself on the ground/walks into the door/ hits himself on the head with a toy.

I’m pretty sure it’s ‘normal’ behaviour for a boy of his age. Through my exhaustive pedagogical research, carried out through play dates with his friends and observations in the play ground I can conclude that yes, other boys of his age are indeed similarly bonkers. Either that or we have a really really bizarre friendship group where all the children are aliens from the Planet Weird.

I’m sure in a few years I’ll look back and think – ahhhhh, do you remember when Corey used to gleefully shout ‘let’s play goolie-bumps’ to Mitch and they commence a very spirited game of running across his bedroom naked with the intention of bashing their goolies against each other? Or what about the time that it took him 30 minutes to take off his pyjamas and at the end of that time his school uniform still only consisted of a polo shirt and one sock? Or what about when he shouted ‘look at my funky moves?’ on holiday and then did a spin to land face down on the concrete with blood gushing from a gashed knee? Actually, even writing them down is bringing a little smile to my face. At the time though I am invariably not smiling. Not smiling at all. Normally I am shouting things like ‘for the love of all that is holy will you just put your bloody uniform on, I have been in to help you ten times now and you will be LATE and EXPELLED and AMOUNT TO NOTHING’. Actually I couldn’t help but smile at their goolie bumps game. Oh I’m so going to love regaling that story to girlfriends they bring home in the future……..

I absolutely hate the fact that when I express concerns to the teachers at school about his ongoing reluctance to read or write they say ‘well he’s a boy isn’t he’. In my opinion that does boys a disservice. Yes, I agree that boys seem to develop different interests to girls from a very young age and learn in different ways – but surely that should be incorporated into the way children are taught at school not just used as an excuse as to why when the little girls are sitting nicely writing a story Corey and his buddies are pretending to whack their heads on the side of the table and then fall over.

He is also going through a mahoosive growth spurt. Actually I think to label it a growth ‘spurt’ is a misnomer as he seems to be on a perpetual growth pattern. Which is only to be expected really as if he stopped growing then that would be massive cause for concern now wouldn’t it. But he is massively tall with long lanky legs. The second tallest in his year group at school. The tallest boy has a dad who looks like a basketball player. Corey clearly didn’t get his height and gazelle like legs from me, more’s the pity.

I have started to notice a massive difference in his behaviour when he’s hungry. He doesn’t actually say he’s hungry but once he’s eaten he seems to start calming down a bit. He is eating massive breakfasts (this morning 2 boiled eggs and 3 slices of toast and a tortilla wrap!) and in the evening he is more than ready for a full cooked meal even though he has a school lunch.

Rice pudding is a favourite of mine and I have enjoyed giving it to my boys ever since they were babies. Now they are older I do use more sugar in the recipe. I think it’s a good energy dense pudding to give them. Making it in the slow cooker is far easier than in the oven. It takes about 3 hours on high (or longer on low) – I do find that contrary to most slow cooker recipes it does need the odd stir now and then so it doesn’t stick to the sides.

Yesterday I made it for us and had some left over double cream in the fridge so added that to the milk. Flipping. Lush. The boys topped theirs with some left over strawberry jam and I went full on OTT pudding with some chopped banana and a dollop of peanut butter. My hubby, pudding purist (or some might say unadventurous) went with it on it’s own. Either way – it’s gorgeous. Hot or cold. As it cools it gets thicker so if you want it the next day then add some more milk and give it a stir.

slow cooker rice pudding

100g short grain/pudding rice (I have made this with risotto rice when I was out of pudding rice and it turns out fine and dandy)

100g caster or granulated sugar

1 litre milk

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Grating of nutmeg on the top (optional but I love the nutmeg taste)

The recipe could not be easier – slop all the ingredients into the slow cooker, cook on high for 3 hours or until the rice is soft and the mixture is sticky and delicious, stir the rice a couple of times in that period if you can. Eat. Add more milk if it’s looking too sticky at the end.

Enjoy!!

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Oreo cupcakes

My eldest got his first ever school report yesterday. It’s been a big adjustment for all of us him starting school. Back in September when he started I couldn’t even walk past the school without crying. I was worried about so many things. I was worried that the teachers wouldn’t ‘get’ him. i was worried that he would not join in with the other children, or take turns, or try new things. It just seemed like the official end of the baby years. My precious boy who only minutes ago, or so it seems, was a tiny newborn was now going to have a whole range of experience out of my control and without me.

I really needn’t have worried. He has loved pretty much every aspect of school. He has made lots of new friends, he likes all his teachers, he eats his school dinner every day, he’s joined the football club where he and other 5 year olds run round like headless chickens in the vague direction of a ball and then kick each other, he has made progress with his writing (slowly) and reading (somewhat reluctantly). Above all – and most importantly – he is HAPPY there.

I think it’s taken me longer, if I’m honest, to adjust to the idea of him as being more independent and grown up. Anyway, I was thrilled to read positive comments in his report and am super proud of him.

I originally posted this recipe a couple of years ago and it has become a firm favourite in our house and has gone down a treat with the various friends I have baked them for. So, I decided to cook them again today as we are heading to a BBQ tomorrow at some friends and I thought they’d be a nice after school treat for the kids too.

I think that cooking with kids needs to involve some jobs that are `theirs`. My boys love to get the baking trays out of the cupboards and then put the cake cases in them. This recipe then requires them to pop a biscuit in the bottom of each case (and eat several in the process) and then bash the hell out of the remaining biscuits (safely esconced in a plastic bag!) which appeals to their destructive little natures.

Recipe

2 packs Oreo cookies and some mini oreos

125 g self-raising flour

125 g unsalted butter or marg (I’ve been using Stork recently)

125 g caster sugar

2 eggs

1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

few tablespoons milk

Butter cream (I used Betty Crocker Vanilla cupcake frosting but you can make your own)

1. First pre-heat oven to 195c

2. Line muffin tin with cases – put one whole Oreo cookie in each one,  I think I made about 16 cakes but it depends how full you like them!

3. Bash up remaining Oreo cookies in a sealed plastic bag using a wooden spoon or rolling pin

4. Put all ingredients (except Oreos) in a food processor or Kitchen Aid and blitz, or use a bowl and an electric hand mixer and then stir in HALF the crushed Oreos.

5.  Spoon a good dollop into each cake case on top of the Oreo cookie

6. Bake in oven for 15-20 mins and cool on wire rack

7. When cool mix most of remaining crumbled Oreos into butter cream/frosting and splodge onto cakes (or pipe in gorgeous decorative manner if you have the skill or patience- it’ll taste the same either way)

Today though – if you look at my pictures closely – I left the buttercream plain and just put a biscuit on top – mainly because I had run out of Oreos)

8. Sprinkle with last few bits of cookie or some mini Oreos if you have them.

9. Eat!

Really easy to make but totally delicious.  I was amazed the first time I baked these that the biscuit base stays so crunchy.

Enjoy!!

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Peanut butter & jelly bars

You know when you see a picture of some food on instagram and then you have dreams about it and just have to make your own version?  No?  You mean you’re not obsessed with food to the same levels I am?  You don’t plan pretty much every meal for the foreseeable future and read cookery books for fun?  Oh OK.  I accept it, I am a food nutter.  Anyway, I saw a friend make these bars and couldn’t start thinking about them.

My boys watch a lot of American films/telly at the moment and are just starting to cotton on to that humourous element which us Brits still have at such moments.  Americans calling things by different names.  Setting aside the ever-hilarious casual usage of ‘fanny’ which as yet doesn’t mean much to my boys (only a matter of time) the boys think it’s ridiculous that they would put ‘jelly’ on toast.  Jelly?  But it’s wobbly and would go everywhere – snarf, snarf, snarf……….

This recipe does not call for jelly my friends, it needs jam.  Of course, I could have just called it peanut butter and jam bars but then it would lose that whole yankee-cool vibe (me, affected much?!).

I am not actually a jam fan.  The band or the fruit spread.  I like making jam but, aside from on a scone with a large amount of clotted cream, I don’t really like eating it that much.  So when I was adapting this recipe I cut down the quantity a bit.  Feel free to add more if you love it although bear in mind that jam bubbles up like a bastard when it is cooked and then welds on to any cooking pan and clings on like the devil itself.  You’ve been warned.

These bars aren’t quite biscuit and they aren’t quite cake.  Somewhere in between.  The first mouthful is a bit salty and you’ll be unsure if you like them, the second mouthful gives the sweet hit and then before you know it you’ll have eaten at least 3.

Peanut butter & Jelly Bars

125g Marg or butter

150g sugar (caster or granulated)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

250g smooth peanut butter

210g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

125g strawberry or raspberry jam

50g salted peanuts crushed in a pestle and mortar or chopped roughly

Pre heat oven to 180c and grease and line with baking parchment a tin.  I use a square one that measures about 21cm x 21cm

I use my kitchenaid for this but of course you can use a food processor or mixer or even by hand.

Cream the butter and sugar in the mixer until golden and fluffy, then add the vanilla, egg and peanut butter – mix together.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined.m

Put 2/3 of the dough into the baking tray and squish down with a fork to cover the bottom.  Dollop the jam with a teaspoon over the top.  I quite like it spread not to evenly so on some mouthfuls you get more jam than others.  Then onto the top of the jam, using a teaspoon again, dollop the remaining dough and then flatten out with a fork.

Top with the peanuts and pop in the oven until golden brown.  This takes 35 to 40 minutes in my oven (which is a fast oven)

Take out and cool before cutting into squares.

I have frozen half of these to prevent myself from eating too many of them in one sitting. Be warned they’re a bit addictive.

Enjoy!

 

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