Category Archives: Food

A Cupboard Full of Cake

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Greetings one and all, it’s been very quiet round here lately. First I was ill then we enjoyed a marvellous weekend with family in Edinburgh so life has been busy as ever. Even though I miss it when I cannot blog I am enjoying the ease of sharing snippets of my days on Instagram. It is a great way of trying to order my ideas and stop the obsessive mental stockpiling of things that I want to share on here!

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As I mentioned, I was knocked sideways by a bout of sickness the other week. I am rarely ill and do not make a good patient. Having caught the bug from the Little Man I was once again overcome with respect for the stoicism that my children show when they are poorly.

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For me, there are two things I need when I am under the weather – cake and chocolate. For inspiration I turned to the wonderful Lillian’s Cupboard. So let me take you on a tour of the treats that helped restore me to strength!

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I first made this Swedish Dream Bar for my colleagues a while ago and it proved to be such a hit that it is still commented on now. Therefore I do not understand why it has taken me so long to give it another go. Moist and chewy on top with a crunchy, biscuit base this makes the perfect sweet snack with a cuppa and is easily transportable for picnics.

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It was unfortunate timing that I caught a bug on the weekend that both my hubby and parents were away. When the craving for cake hit and I realised that the fridge was egg free I nearly cried. There was much internal cheering when I looked up one of my favourite of Lillian’s recipes, the Boiled Raisin Cake, and discovered it to be egg free. Oh happy days! (Incidentally the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is also egg free and definitely on my to-bake list!). This is a 1940s tea bread and I adore the simple, sweet cinnamon hit it delivers. It is also very popular with the Little Man as he is not a fan of sponge but loves fruit cakes.

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The final treat in this weekend bakeathon was another WWII era Cake, the Orange One Egg Cake. I blogged about this cake a couple years ago here but it was even better this time. I used half juice, half milk and whisked the frosting until it was extra light and fluffy. Delicious!

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And finally, for balance, there has been plenty of non-cake related feasting around here as barbecue season has hit. You know how much I love a picnic so you can imagine how excited I get about this sort of al-fresco dining and the Little Man thinks that they are the best thing ever! Ironically my favourite aspect of barbecues is not the meat but the salads (my husband says that this is sacrilege but hey ho).

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Here we have Mary Berry’s Coleslaw, made with half vinaigrette, half mayonnaise, roasted vegetables with balsalmic vinegar and, my latest obsession, Delia Smith’s Very Red Rice. Made with Carmague red rice, this salad has a lovely nutty texture. I saw it originally on Instagram and the secret I find is to leave it to cool slightly then stir through chunks of good feta cheese and a load of coriander. So good!

I shall leave you with a final, gratuitous snap of my darling Little Lady who joins in with all of this feasting with an (almost) permanent smile on her face!

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Filed under Cakes, Crochet, Food

Cinnamon Apple Roses

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Hello! Remember these little beauties from the other week? They proved so popular that I have already made a second batch. Obviously I gave you the link to the superb video of the recipe but I felt that it would be much more convenient to have a written version. This is not to replace the video but will be a handy reference for when I (or anybody else!) next want to whip up another bouquet of roses.

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Halve and thinly slice 2 red apples and put them in a bowl of water with lemon juice. Microwave for 3 minutes then drain.

Mix 3 tbsp apricot preserve with 2 tbsp water and microwave for 1 minute.

Roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry into a longer, thinner rectangle and cut into 6 strips. Spread on the apricot jam.

Lay the apple slices along the top of each pastry strip and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon. Fold the dough in half to hold the fruit in place (watch the video to see this process in action!).

Roll up the dough strips into roses and bake in a muffin tin at 190 °C/375 °F for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving warm with a blob of ice cream.

Enjoy!

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The Week In and Out

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Hello my dears, I hope I find you well. Thank you for your kind wishes for the Little Lady. Her spots are now clearing and normality has returned.

Do you like the yarn play that I enjoyed with my Little Man the other day? He is not the most enthusiastic artist/crafter but, with a bit of encouragement, we have some lovely sessions together. I am planning on creating a spider to live in his colourful web so it can hang in his bedroom.

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There are times when I get myself in a tizzy about this blog, planning posts, not writing them and then ending up stressing so I am hoping that this post clears a backlog. The last fortnight has been a busy mix of mundane, comfortable at home time (the in of the title) and merry outings here and there, picnicking with family and friends. Bits and pieces that make for messy posts but are a truthful reflection of everyday life. My latest obsession, Instagram, is a wonderful outlet for these moments but I still love writing my blog. If you’re on there please come and say hello @rosy_hill!

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On Bank Holiday Monday we had a magical day out at one of our favourite places, Shugborough. I have taken you there before here if you want to look around but on Monday it was a relaxed, family affair that centred around the little people and the picnic!

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It makes me so happy to see the joy my Little Man gets out of life’s simple pleasures. Chasing a ball around. Picking dandelion clocks.

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Bless him.

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Another wonderful moment from last weekend was creating these little beauties. So simple, so effective, so delicious and so much fun! I have never used YouTube videos to cook from before but these worked out really well. Check it out here.

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Served warm with a blob of ice-cream they made quite a spectacular dessert!

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Today we are down in Kent with family and we took a trip to Riverhill Himalayan Gardens. We timed the visit well with the woods being carpeted with bluebells. What a smell!

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The little people had a wonderful time and the weather was kind to us. It only rained a little bit and the sun even came out to say hello.

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The Little Man was here, there and everywhere…

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…even getting up close and personal with the sculptures! I took so many pictures of the flowers, the views, the art but mostly it was pretty overcast and they just don’t do justice to the beauty of nature. Trust me, we shall be visiting again!

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Finally, we have been busy setting up the garden for the summer. Seeds have been planted, bushes have been mulched and some dubious seed potatoes have been plunged into the ground with fingers crossed! I hope to have some more to show you soon when things get going.

Thank you so much if you have made it to the end of my musings. Flicking through it all looks pretty bright and colourful so I shall leave you with a reminder that we’ve had the rain and clouds too, we’ve just carried on regardless! 🙂

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Filed under Crochet, Desserts, Gardening, Recipes, Trips and outings

Mexican Brunch with One-Cup Pancakes

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I don’t know about you but I normally like to know what I’m cooking for dinner the next day before I settle down to bed at night. It is therefore unusual for me to be standing there at 4 o’clock pondering what to cook. However, that was me today. All I knew was that we had a lot of eggs. A quick Google search later saw me perusing 32 Jamie Oliver egg recipes and, hey presto, tonight’s dinner was sorted.

The Mexican Breakfast turned out to be simple, healthy and delicious. As the original recipe was for 6 I only used one can of tomatoes and a single pepper but I did cook two eggs each (this was dinner after all!). I also added a courgette and a dozen cherry tomatoes to the onion, garlic and sliced pepper and cooked them on medium for 15 minutes with some mixed herbs and paprika.

Then comes a tin of chopped tomatoes and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce and simmer for 15 minutes until thick and flavoursome. Next, slice 2 tomatoes on top and crack 6 eggs into holes in the mixture. Cover and cook until the eggs are cooked but still runny.

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With this I served the One-Cup Pancakes (or 2/3 of a cup to serve 3!). Simply whisk together 1 cup self-raising flour (wholemeal works well) with 1 cup milk and some salt. Then stir in the kernals from one corn on the cob or a large handful of frozen sweet corn, defrosted. The recipe calls for 20g feta cheese but I omitted this.

Simply ladle the mixture into a pan and fry for 2 minutes until bubbles appear. Flip and cook for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Delicious!

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How Do You Like Your Eggs in the Morning?

Poached Eggs

We eat a lot of eggs in this house. They’re cheap, easy, versatile and healthy. Weekend breakfasts often consist of scrambled or fried eggs. This week I had a sudden yearning for poached eggs. Quick as they are to make, there is something about them that makes them feel like holiday fodder. A treat.

Eggs Poaching

The secret to poached eggs is the vinegar. Two teaspoons in the water and something magical happens – instead of a mess of blobby rubber, the whites remain smooth and round.

Poached Eggs

I used to boil my eggs for 3 minutes but, since reading Lucy’s ‘Egg Poaching Knowhow‘, I now gently pour the eggs into boiling water before leaving them, off the heat, to gently cook for 5 minutes. Perfect!

Poached Eggs

Soft, white and just ready for eating. Tuck in!

Poached Eggs

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Bread, Baking and Barbeques

Bread Baking

Sunday was such a wonderful day. I spent the majority of it in the kitchen preparing for the evening’s festivities. It was time to crack open Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake‘ and indulge in some good, old-fashioned bread making. What a luxury! On today’s menu were Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia and Wholemeal Barm Cakes. Both were recipes new to me and both were a great success.

Focaccia

The focaccia was a delight to make and eat. (If you wish to have a go, Paul Hollywood’s recipe can be found here as well as in the book). The dough was springy and silky smooth and surprisingly easy to manipulate considering its stickiness. Watching those episodes of ‘The Great British Bake Off, Masterclass’ paid off at last!

Focaccia

I sprinkled one loaf with sea salt and oregano, as the recipe suggested, but the rosemary and sea salt version was the real hit. So moreish, we did eat a lot of bread!

Barm Cakes Dough

Wonderful as the focaccia was, I was proudest of my Barm cakes (another name for soft rolls, perfect to use as burger baps). They were soft, light and floury with a wonderful nuttiness. (I had run out of white bread flour so had to substitute wholemeal bread flour. All good!) Being so soft, their texture is quite different to most home-made breads where the crust is the best part. As these were so delicious I have written up the recipe in case you want to have a go.

Barm Cakes

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 10g instant yeast (I used active dry yeast and it worked well, I just left it a little longer to prove)
  • 40g butter, softened
  • 320ml cold water

Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, butter and enough water to form a rough dough. Knead for 5 – 10 minutes until smooth.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave for 1 – 3 hours until at least doubled in size.

Tip out and knock back before dividing into about 12 pieces or balls of 70g. Leave to rest for 30 minutes on a heavily floured surface.

Flatten slightly with a rolling-pin and place on lined and floured baking trays. Sprinkle with flour and place the trays in a carrier bag and leave to prove for about an hour until doubled in size.

Bake in an oven pre-heated to 210 °C for 10 minutes before cooling on a wire rack.

Store in a lidded container to keep them soft.

Chocolate Orange Cake

The final preparations came in the form of cake baking. Gizzi Erksine’s Chocolate Orange Truffle Cake to be specific. This recipe was actually the top layer of my wedding cake – sweet, gooey and delicious.

Chocolate Orange Cake

It is incredibly rich but the orange gives it a slight tang and stops it from being too sickly. Nom nom.

Worm Hunting

The Little Man was amazing all day. He spent most of it in the garden with various family members, endlessly walking up and down, playing football and searching for worms in our vegetable beds! We have experimented with putting the kitchen waste straight into the soil at the front so we can grow courgettes/squash on the freshly composting peelings. It seems to be going well as a lot of the matter has already decomposed and the bed is now full of worms, always a good sign in these situations and an excellent source of entertainment for 2 year olds.

Barbeque

Finally it was barbeque time. There is nothing quite like the glowing embers of a barbeque. Any of you who visit regularly will know that I am a fan of open air eating. Yes, this is England. Yes, it is February. Yes, it is cold outside. However I do not see why that should spoil our fun. It was time to celebrate my lovely brother-in-law’s birthday in style. (This was party take 2 as he had missed half of his own celebrations last week – see here). What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening. We all ate lots and laughed lots. The weather remained dry and relatively mild.

I love parties! 🙂

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Pepperoni Pizza Soup

Pizza Soup

Last week my interest was caught by a post entitled ‘Hearty Pepperoni Pizza Soup‘ on Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts. Ever since I read the recipe it has been on my mind so, when my sister suggested dinner tonight, there was no decision to make.

I did adapt the recipe somewhat. Indeed, although I have kept the title, my version did not actually contain any pepperoni at all. I much prefer the sweeter, smokier flavour chorizo so used that instead. I also added a lot more seasoning as, for me, the herbs are the secret to this dish. At the end of the day, my soup still delivered exactly what it said on the tin – pizza in a soup. Brilliant!

So here’s my recipe:

  • 4 – 6 onions, minced
  • 1 chorizo, sliced
  • 4 peppers, chopped
  • 2-3 courgettes, diced
  • 6 cloved garlic, minced
  • 20 tomatoes, blended
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs (the dried oregano is what gives this soup the flavour/smell of pizza)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 500ml – 1l water
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • Cooked meat – I used left over sausages and chicken (optional)
  • Cheese to sprinkle on top

Fry the onions and chorizo until the onions are soft and the chorizo has released its oils. Add the peppers, courgettes and garlic.

Stir in the tomatoes, seasoning and water and bring to the boil. Cook for 30 minutes.

Stir in the cheese and meat and cook until hot all the way through.

Serve with crusty bread and cheese sprinkled on top.

Enjoy!

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365 Catch Up – Week 5

Morning sky

Hello my lovelies, I hope that you are all well. I have been trawling through my albums, selecting my favourites for my daily snapshot. I do love this project, I love seeing how my life evolves day-to-day, bobbing along quite contentedly with regular moments of excitement. I have split this post up to help keep the size down so will just do a few days at a time. I have also decided to merge my 365 Project and my Crochet Mood Blanket by including which colour matched my ‘feeling’ for that day.

Cake and Crochet

Wednesday 29th January: Being treated by my husband – a custard slice and a crochet hook brought a smile to my face and gave me a bit of peace before resuming work for the evening.

Mood of the Day: Beige – warm, comfortable, calm.

Cuppa and Crochet

Thursday 30th January: Cuppa and crochet – me time. I have said it before but I am loving this enforced hooky time of an evening. It is so good for the soul!

No Knead Bread

In other news, I am still continuing my No-Knead Bread journey, although it has somewhat slowed for the moment.

Mood of the Day: Ice blue – cold, tired.

Sponge Cake

Friday 31st January: A slice of sponge cake baked by my husband’s fair hands. What a lucky girl I am! (Do also note the beautiful, warm and furry cardigan covered in stars. My favourite item of clothing at the minute!)

Mood of the Day: Light blue – another day at the end of a long, tiring week. Lightened by the fact that it was Friday.

Splashing in the Mud

Saturday 1st February: I love my Little Man dearly but, if I am honest, this was a difficult week for him and therefore us. The world can be an infuriating place for a nearly-two year old. A lot of frustration. A lot of screaming. Sometimes I did not even know what the crying was about. Where had my wonderful, happy-go-lucky boy gone?

Forge Mill Farm

My solution to tetchiness is always to get out of the house so a trip to the farm with my sister was on the cards. Blue sunshine, lots of mud to splash in and animals to entertain. What could go wrong? Let’s just say the journey around the farm lasted under 30 minutes, 25 of which involved moaning and screaming. Argh! Get me out of here.

Indoor Picnic

We decided to escape the biting wind and take refuge in a little barn fitted out with tables and chairs for indoor picnicking. Within minutes peace descended. Smiles returned and there was much laughter and chatter, especially as we were quickly joined by two dogs and their owners who were also seeking a bit of warmth.

Play area

As good spirits had been restored we decided to burn off a bit of steam at the play area before we left. A lovely way to end a rather awful outing.

Mood of the Day: Shrimp – bright, cheerful, love and cuddles. Even a bit of moaning does not stop me being grateful for my weekends with my amazing boy.

p.s. I am glad to say that, as all such phases, Little Man’s mood had lifted by Sunday so peace and harmony has returned to our household. x

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Seeking Comfort

Lake

Good evening all! I hope you are well. I have been missing my regular postings and did not want to end the weekend without popping by. If I am honest, this last week has been rather difficult, stressful and exhausting. Things have been getting on top of me; my work seems to have become unmanageable and housework just non-existent. There has also been rather a lot of guilt as I have felt rather ineffectual as a wife and mother, even staying late at work a couple of evenings. All in all, I am seeking some equilibrium and intend to get things back on track.

Little Helper

Stage one of the recovery plan was some theraputic domesticity. Providing healthy, homemade food for my family makes me feel good and, as we do not keep in many ready made options, last minute baking is a regular necessity (especially when meal planning has gone somewhat awry). Today’s cooking was especially exciting as, not only did I have a little helper to test the ingredients, it gave me the opportunity to test my birthday new book – Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake‘. As lunch was due on the table in under an hour, there really was only one choice of loaf – soda bread. It is amazing that four simple ingredients (wholemeal flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and buttermilk) can combine to create something so delicious. A great success and I look forward to trying more Hollywood recipes in the near future.

Soup and Soda Bread

The bread was served with my take on the traditional Brocolli and Stilton. As we had no brocolli, it became pea and courgette. Not wholly sure that this was an improvement as these ingredients do lack the flavour of brocolli but it was cheap, healthy and was enjoyed by everyone so no worries.

Anyway, I must dash now but I am ending the weekend with positive thoughts for the week ahead. I hope that you are managing to keep life balanced and are concentrating on the positives. Back soon! 🙂

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Creamy Sweet Potato and Pear Bisque

Sweet Potato and Pear Bisque

Yum yum yum! This was today’s dinner, kindly prepared by my dear husband: Sweet Potato and Pear Bisque (or soup for those of us who are not used to such fancy terminology!). I was inspired to make this dish after reading Teresa’s rave reviews of the recipe on her blog, Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen. It sounded exactly what we need at the moment – healthy comfort food to warm one up on these dark January evenings. And indeed, it did not disappoint. This soup was delicious. Sweet and tasty, like velvet flowing down my throat.

And what better to serve this creamy dish with but fresh No Knead Bread! As I was running low on flour, this loaf is a bit of a mish-mash. 1/2 cup white bread flour, 2 cups wholemeal bread flour and 1/2 cup plain (all-purpose) flour. However it was none the worse for it! The wholemeal flour added a delicious nuttiness, enhanced by the addition of poppy and sesame seeds (it needs some sunflower/pumpkin seeds for some real bite but I am also out of those).

Plate

The other rather exciting element of this simple supper was that it gave me the chance to use my wonderful new plate, a Christmas present from my lovely mother. Happy days!

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