Peach and Banana Smoothie

Hi and thanks for dropping by.  Are you having a good Monday or is it a bit of a drrrraaaagggg?  Mondays can be a real dichotomy.  If you’re on holiday, honeymoon or just cos the sun’s shining, then Mondays can be great!! If it’s another week at work or school, with deadlines looming, meetings pressing and the sun nowhere to be seen, it can be the hardest thing ever having to haul yourself outta bed and start another working week.  This super easy Peach and Banana Smoothie not only looks like sunshine in a glass, it tastes amazing, is made in moments and it’s good for you!!  Just the pick me up needed on a Monday, or any other day of the week.

Peach and Banana Smoothie - a glass of sunshine to brighten your day!
Peach and Banana Smoothie – a glass of sunshine to brighten your day!

So whatever day you are having this super easy, super delish, Peach and Banana Smoothie is exactly what you need to give you the energy to face the day!

Peach and Banana Smoothies - ideal to have with Breakfast!
Peach and Banana Smoothies – ideal to have with Breakfast!

Although I’ve pitched these as ideal for breakfast, I actually made this mid afternoon!!! We’d had a late breakfast, skipped lunch and I didn’t want us (me included) snacking on sugary treats whilst waiting for dinner.  So far, so good! Dinner’s still an hour away and no ones hungry.

A healthy, filling, sunshine Smoothie.
A healthy, filling, sunshine Smoothie.

To make these Peach and Banana Smoothies all you need is:

Recipe : Makes 4 servings.

3  Bananas

2 x 400g Tubs/Cans Peach Slices in Fruit Juice

Method :

Tip the peaches and juice into a blender, or a food processor.

Peaches in....
Peaches in….

Next peel the bananas, break them into chunks and add them to the peaches.

Your Peach and Banana Smoothie is a few pulses away.
Your Peach and Banana Smoothie is a few pulses away.

Blitz the peaches and bananas until you have a lump free Smoothie.

Get ready to pour....
Get ready to pour….

And then pour your smoothie into a tall glass…

It's like pouring liquid sunshine!!
It’s like pouring liquid sunshine!!

Next enjoy!

Such a scrummy smoothie
Such a scrummy smoothie

During the summer you could add frozen bananas, or substitute tinned peaches for fresh and add some ice to make this a cool drink.  But for mid February this Smoothie was fab as is. Enjoy!!!!

Easy, quick Peach and Banana Smoothies - delish x
Easy, quick Peach and Banana Smoothies – delish x

I hope you give this a try and that it makes you smile on a Monday, Tuesday, in fact what ever day you make it!

Sammie x

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Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi, there how are you? In the mood for baking these Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies I hope???

A Tower of Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies - scrumptious
A Tower of Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies – scrumptious.

These cookies deserve some serious (only kidding!!) respect.  They are sugary crisp on the outside and gooey, meltingly, chocolately on the inside.  This is THE cookie you have been waiting for – and you didn’t even know it!!!

See I told you!! That's a large ice cream scoop - lost amongst the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies (bet it would be nice to be that scoop??!!).
See I told you!! That’s a large ice cream scoop – lost amongst the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies (bet it would be nice to be that scoop??!!).

I can honestly say I’ve never wanted to be an ice cream scoop before – but there’s a first time ……

That's only 8 cookies people - nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower (artistic license allowed!!)
That’s only 8 cookies people – nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower (artistic license allowed!!)

Did I mention that these are Giant  Chocolate Chip Cookies – oh I did and you want me to get on with the recipe – fair enough: here goes!!

Recipe:  This recipe makes 14-16 Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies.

225g/8oz  Light Brown Sugar

150g/5oz  Unsatled Butter

1  Large Egg +

1  Large Egg Yolk

2 tsp  Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt – free flowing

275g/10oz  Plain White Flour

1/2 tsp  Sodium Bicarbonate.

400g/14oz  Chocolate Chunks/Chips

Method :

Preheat the oven to 170C (160C fan).

In a large, microwave proof bowl, add the butter and sugar.  Place in the microwave and heat until the butter is just starting to melt : it’s very hard to give exact timings here, as it depends how cold your butter is to start, what power (wattage) your microwave is etc.  The only advice I would give is to heat it slowly, on medium.  Once butter melts in a microwave it starts to spit and bubble.  Whilst this is going to have a small impact in your recipe, it’s a real pain to have to clean out the microwave, mid baking, before the butter sets hard.  Just trying to help!!

Next get whisking and I mean you really do need an electric whisk for this.  I made these cookies a fair few times before I realised the importance of really whisking the butter and sugar together properly and then again when you add the egg, extra yolk and vanilla extract. Bi have absolutely no idea why it makes such a difference, but it does and so much for the better!

The whisked butter and sugar, ready to be whisked again with the egg and vanilla.
The whisked butter and sugar, ready to be whisked again with the egg and vanilla.
Lovely fluffy, whipped eggs/butter/sugar and vanilla - almost doubled in size.
Lovely fluffy, whipped eggs/butter/sugar and vanilla – almost doubled in size.

Whisking the eggs and vanilla extract into the butter/sugar mixture for a good 5 minutes makes all the difference to the finished cookie.

Now sift in the flour/bicarb and salt.  Then add the chocolate (I used Milk Chocolate Chunks – you may use whichever chocolate you prefer!!).  Using a spoon gently fold all the dry ingredients, including the chocolate  chunks into the whisked mixture.  I’ve found the cookie dough comes together very easily.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - yummeeeee!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – yummeeeee!

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (I’m sorry I just don’t get along with greaseproof paper, it always sticks!!).  Then using a large, spring operated ice cream scoop ( see 1st photo! ), proceed to scoop out 4 portions if cookie dough, well spaced apart, on each sheet.  Using damp hands, slightly flatten the dome top of each unbaked  cookie. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the biscuits have a sugary, crackled sheen, turning golden and are starting to set.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minute before placing each cookie on a baking rack.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Then proceed as before to bake the rest of the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies – or make smaller cookies: take a golf ball sized piece of cookie dough, roll into a ball in you hands, place on the lined baking sheet and press down lightly as before.  Bake for approx 15 minutes.  The cookie dough left, yielded 13 smaller (but NOT small) cookies.

The second batch of smaller, Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies - now there's a contradiction!
The second batch of smaller, Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies – now there’s a contradiction!

I had soooo much fun making these cookies.  The recipe was originally inspired by Nigella (thank you Ms Lawson) but I’ve adapted it over time and it is absolutely, one hundred per cent, our children’s and my Nieces favourite cookie that I bake – like ever!!!

A Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie with 2 not so smaller ones!
A Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie with 2 not so smaller ones!

The very best part of making these cookies is sharing them.  Children and the young at heart love being treated to a Supersize cookie (as the sugar content is quite a bit higher than my other cookie recipes, these don’t get baked very often – see I am a responsible mum – almost!!).

I hope that you give these Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies a try and enjoy sharing them and revelling in the smiles you see!

Sammie x

 

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Nutella and Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake

Hi there, I hope there is something in your day today that makes you smile.  I’m definitely smiling because I’ve made this luscious, moist Nutella and Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake!

Nutella and Hazelnut covered, light and moist, Chocolate Marble Cake.
Nutella and Hazelnut covered, light and moist, Chocolate Marble Cake.

Yep I’m back to baking, after being out of action for a few weeks with horrid Migraines – soooo frustrating, painful and boring – but today I did it.  I finally got to remake the cake that I teased you about (see Teasers!!!) and as Nutella has been on special offer, I won’t get blasted by the children, for depleting their Nutella supply!!!

Chocolate and Vanilla Cake Swirled together. Seriously luscious!
Chocolate and Vanilla Cake Swirled together. Seriously luscious!

I will be totally honest, the only other time I made this cake, I ate it 3 days in a row for lunch!! Something about the moistness of the cake, the Nutella topping and roasted hazelnuts just got me, good and proper!!

I should mention, given the number of times I’ve mentioned Nutella, that this is not a paid promotion.  It’s just Nutella is such an easy frosting for a cake and this particular combo is especially yummy.

Recipe :  Makes one 9 inch cake.

12oz/350g  White Caster Sugar

12oz/350g  Unsalted Butter – room temp

1/4tsp  Salt – I use Kosher (additive free)

2tsp  Vanilla Extract

6  Large Eggs – pref free range

240mls/8fl oz  Buttermilk

12oz/350g  White Self Raising Flour

3oz/75g  Cocoa Powder

5-6  Heaped Tablespoons of Nutella

4oz/100g  Blanched Hazelnuts

Method :

Preheat the oven to 170C (155C fan).

Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and cream together using an electric whisk (or stand mixer with paddle attachment). This actually takes a good 5 mins to get a really pale, light and fluffy mixture (so unless you want a thorough workout I don’t suggest you do this by hand!!).

Pale and fluffy!!
Pale and fluffy!!

Next add the vanilla extract, salt and 1 egg. Whisk until combined.  Then continuing to whisk gradually add the rest of the eggs, slowly, one at a time, until they have all been added.  If it looks like your mixture is going to curdle -DON’T PANIC!!- add one tablespoon of Self Raising Flour and the mixture will come back together.  Now sigh with relief!!!’

All eggs added and no curdling - I added a tablespoon of flour, just in case!!!
All eggs added and no curdling – I added a tablespoon of flour, just in case!!!

Add the flour and partly mix in, then add the buttermilk (it’s worth giving the container a good shake, as the buttermilk can settle).  Complete the mixing, by folding in the part blended flour mixture and the buttercream.  Watch in amazement as the batter takes on a mousse like consistency!

This St Ivel buttermilk is the only one I could find!
This St Ivel buttermilk is the only one I could find!
A lovely mousse type batter, that is really light and airy - and easy to stir!!
A lovely mousse type batter, that is really light and airy – and easy to stir!!

If my batter looks a bit pinky/orange, it’s  because the eggs I used had very orange yolks!!

In a separate bowl (I suggest that you use a larger one than I did!!!) add the cocoa powder.  Place half of your vanilla cake batter on top of the cocoa and whisk until blended – I did try mixing by hand, but it was hopeless as the bowl was too small!

Cocoa.
Cocoa.
Place half the batter mixture on top.
Place half the batter mixture on top.
And whisk!!!
And whisk!!!

This chocolate batter tastes yummy!

Next, in a buttered and parchment lined (only on the base) 9 inch, springform cake pan, it’s time to get creative with dolloping your two cake batters.

First I dolloped chocolate cake batter.
First I dolloped chocolate cake batter.
Then I added vanilla..,
Then I added vanilla..,
Finishing with the rest of the chocolate.
Finishing with the rest of the chocolate.

Then using a butter knife I swirled the two batters together.  What you’re aiming for is a rippled effect – but there’s no precise way to do it – just don’t get carried away over swirling, as you’ll end up mixing the two batters together!

Swirling finished, now level off the cake top.
Swirling finished, now level off the cake top.

Place the cake in the preheated oven and bake for an hour.  The cake is cooked when it is firm to touch and does not wobble underneath the set top.  You can also insert a skewer, when it comes out clean the cake is cooked.

Put the cooked cake, still in it’s tin onto a baking rack and leave to cool, in it’s tin for 15 minutes.  After 15 mins unclip the springform tin and remove the tin, leaving the cake on the tin base to cool.

Don't worry if there are a few cracks on the top. These will close as the cake cools.
Don’t worry if there are a few cracks on the top. These will close as the cake cools.

Whilst the cake is cooling, lightly toast the hazelnuts.  Place the hazelnuts into a dry frying pan and toast over a high heat for approx. 5 minutes.  Toasting the hazelnuts brings out the wonderful oils and flavour. Once the hazelnuts are toasted remove from the pan and place in a bowl to cool.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan over a high heat.
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan over a high heat.
Once toasted the hazelnuts turn a gorgeous golden colour.
Once toasted the hazelnuts turn a gorgeous golden colour.

As I mentioned, any cracks in the top of the cake will close on cooling, but don’t worry, the top is going to be covered in Nutella!!!!!  Yummy!

Place the cake on a cake stand/board or plate.  Place 5-6 tablespoons of Nutella onto the top of the cake.  Spread the Nutella over the top of the cake right up to the edges – I used an off set spatula to do this.

Sorry, you do have to spread the Nutella as it doesn't set.
Sorry, you do have to spread the Nutella as it doesn’t set.
Nutella is so easy to spread!
Nutella is so easy to spread!
Oooh scrummy, this Nutella covered cake looks ready to eat - but we can add a final touch!
Oooh scrummy, this Nutella covered cake looks ready to eat – but we can add a final touch!

Time to get creative with the toasted hazelnuts!  You can place them randomly or in a pattern on top of the Nutella.  Once finished you finally have a Nutella and Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake.

Nutella and Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake.
Nutella and Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake.

So scrumptious looking and the perfect cake for sharing.  Also the Nutella doesn’t set so invite a friend/neighbour round, or the whole family and pop the kettle on.  This cake is ready for slicing, so enjoy!

Remember food always tastes better when it’s shared.

Sammie x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes.

Hi there, I hope you are having a good day and hopefully this recipe for Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes will make you smile and encourage you to get baking!!!!

So late (7.30pm – that’s late for me!) the other night, I was in bed and our lil man popped his head round the door and said “Mummy it’s the school bake sale tomorrow.  Do we have anything that I can take in?”.  Looking at me with his angelic, freckled face and gorgeous green eyes, hopeful, expectant.  Mummy’s can sort anything out, at a moments notice – can’t they????

Well of course we can!  Improvisation is one of the most important parenting tools any mum or dad learns.

So, fortunately my cupboards are groaning under the weight of baking ingredients at the mo, due to being unwell over Christmas – see there’s a silver lining to every dark cloud!  If I was going to bake I was definitely going to blog about it.  Only problem with that is, have already posted Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes (chocolate cupcakes guaranteed to sell and make the most money!), I needed a different chocolate recipe.  So I invented a new recipe on the spot – Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes!

They look and taste soooo good!
Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes. They look and taste soooo good!

Given my desire to get back to bed ASAP I decided not to frost these cupcakes. Sprinkling each individual cupcake top with chopped up crunchy after dinner mints turned out better than I hoped for.  The crunchy mint chocolate shards didn’t melt, or lose their shape and once cooled provided an excellent topping in itself!  Ditching the frosting also made it much easier for my lil man to transport these scrumptious (WHAT?? – of course we had to try them!!!) cupcakes to school.

Recipe : Makes 33-36 Cupcakes

1lb/450g  Unsalted Butter – at room temp

1lb/450g  Light Soft Brown Sugar

8 Eggs – Large, room temp – pref free range

2tsp. Vanilla Extract

1tsp. Peppermint Extract

1/4tsp. Salt – I use Kosher (free flowing and additive free)

12oz/350g White Self Raising Flour

4oz/100g  Cocoa Powder

8oz/225g  Milk Chocolate Chunks (or chips)

4oz/100g  Dark Mint Chocolate

Method :

Preheat oven to 190C (175C fan).

Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl and whisk (using an electric whisk, or beater paddle in a stand mixer) until completely combined (this is called creaming) and light and fluffy in texture.

A mix of sugars. Dark and light brown and white caster - it was late and it was the best I could do!!!!
A mix of sugars. Dark and light brown and white caster – it was late and it was the best I could do!!!!
It all whisked up beautifully - breathed sigh of relief!!!!
It all whisked up beautifully – breathes sigh of relief!!!!

Add the vanilla/peppermint extracts and the salt. Whisk in thoroughly.  Now add the eggs, one at a time, whisking between each addition – I break each egg into a separate bowl before adding it to the mixture –  it helps keep any errant eggshell out of the batter.  If the eggs are at room temp then the batter shouldn’t curdle, however, if it does start to curdle just add 1 tablespoon of your flour and the mixture will come back together again.

All 8 eggs whisked in and no curdling! I was relieved.
All 8 eggs whisked in and no curdling! I was relieved.

Next sift in the flour and cocoa powder.  Fold this in using a spoon/spatula, using a gentle figure-of-eight movement rotating the bowl to ensure the flour/cocoa become fully incorporated. The idea is to keep the mixture light and not lose too much of the trapped air from the whisked in eggs.

Add the milk chocolate chunks and fold these into the Cupcake batter so they are evenly distributed.

This mixture looks, smells and tastes scrumptious!
This mixture looks, smells and tastes scrumptious!

Line you cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake cases and using an ice cream scoop, fill the  cases 3/4 full (one scoop full).  Remember I’m not frosting these cupcakes so I want them to have a nice rounded top!

Ready....
Ready….
Squeeze.....
Squeeze…..
Plop! The exact amount of batter drops into the cupcake case - brilliant - and quick - and much less messy than using 2 spoons!
Plop! The exact amount of batter drops into the cupcake case – brilliant – and quick – and much less messy than using 2 spoons!

Sprinkle the crunchy, dark mint chocolate shards over the top of each uncooked cupcake, pushing slightly into the batter.

Ready for the oven!
Ready for the oven!

Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 mins depending on your oven.  I usually test if cupcakes are cooked by lightly pressing in the middle and if it springs back it’s cooked.   I DON’T suggest you do this – I did, forgetting there would be melted chocolate on the top – OUCH!!  So, when the Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes are risen, with a nice dome shape, lightly press the SIDE of the cupcake top.  If firm remove the cupcakes from the oven, if it’s still a bit sticky and wobbly, leave them in the oven for 3-5 minutes until firm and then remove.

Leave to cool for a good 5 minutes before removing to cool on a baking rack.
Leave to cool for a good 5 minutes before removing to cool on a baking rack.

If you’ve only got a couple of cupcake tins you can pop them on the garden bench to speed up the cooling process, so you can decant the cupcakes, wash the tins, get the next batch in the oven and get back to bed!!!!

Come on babies, cool quickly please?
Come on babies, cool quickly please?

When the cupcakes are all cool, pack into an airtight container, cupcake box for school bake sale or place one on a plate pour a glass of milk and take it up to bed to enjoy!!!!

All Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes were sold out in 2 minutes the next day, raising £10 for the charity Mencap!!!

The fun bits……..

Who needs a dishwasher......
Who needs a dishwasher……
When you have chocolate loving children
When you have chocolate loving children

You could easily halve this recipe, should you not have a cake sale to bake for, or, here’s a thought – use the recipe, as is, and surprise someone with a tin/box/plateful of scrummy cupcakes!!

Remember Food Tastes Better When It’s Shared. Happy Feasting!

Sammie x

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Crunchy Seeded Bread

Hi there, thank you for stopping by.  This Loaf of Crunchy Seeded Bread is seriously scrumptious! It simply tastes amazing. Each mouthful filled with the taste of fresh bread, poppy, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds. It has to be tasted to be believed!!

Golden, crunchy, seeded bread.
Golden, crunchy, seeded bread.

I mixed and proved this loaf in my bread maker, but I will show you how to make this Crunchy Seeded Bread using a stand mixer and by hand as well.  This really is a super easy recipe.

Recipe : Makes a small, approx 1lb loaf

260ml  Water – tepid

7g  Sachet Dried Yeast

1tbsp  Runny Honey

450g/1lb  White Flour

4tbsp  Mixed Seed (I used a mixture of poppy, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin)

1tbsp  Unsalted Butter – plus extra for greasing the loaf tin

1/2tsp  Salt – I use Kosher, free flowing

Method :

Bowl – refers to bread maker tin, stand mixer bowl or large bowl for hand mixing.

Place the water, yeast and honey into the bowl.  Swish around with clean fingers to mix.  Add the flour, butter and salt. Do not add any seeds yet.

If using a bread maker set to mix and prove.

If using a stand mixer, attach a dough hook, mix for 10 minutes.  Remove dough and place in a buttered bowl cover in cling film and leave until doubled in size (1-2 hours).

If hand mixing, bring all the ingredients together with your hand.  Place on a very lightly floured worktop.  Knead for a good 10 minutes.  If the dough gets sticky, keep kneading and working it – if you add extra flour the finished bread will be dry.  After a good 10 minutes kneading, the dough should have a smooth elasticity.  Place the kneaded dough into a buttered bowl, cover in cling film and leave until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.

Knock back the dough by gently punching the risen dough.  Add 3 tbsp of the mixed seeds and knead into the dough – in the bowl, until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough, (if using a bread machine I always pop it back on a quick mix cycle for 2 mins add 3tbsp of seeds so they mix and distribute evenly through the dough).

Turn the seeded bread dough out onto a lightly floured work top. Stretch the dough out and fold each end (a third of the dough) back into the centre. Turn the dough by a quarter and repeat. Turn and repeat the folding twice more (4 times in total).  This builds structure into your loaf.

Into a buttered 2lb (8″Lx 4″W x 5″D) place your shaped loaf.  Lightly brush the surface with water and sprinkle over the remaining tablespoon of mixed seeds, pressing them lightly into the top of the dough.

Cover with a clean cotton tea towel and place in a draught free place until doubled in size – 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan).

Place the proved dough into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  The bread should be a dark golden brown and sound hollow when knocked, with your knuckle in the base.  I actually turn my loaf straight out into the oven rack to crisp up the base whilst I quickly wash the loaf tin up – CAREFUL THE TIN IS VERY HOT!!

Remove the Crunchy Seeded Bread from the oven, remove from the tin (if not already done) and place on a cooling rack.

Breathe in deeply.  It doesn’t matter how many times I bake bread, the smell is amazing!!

Now you have to wait until the loaf is cooled, or only just warm. If you try to cut through the bread when it’s hot it’ll just go squishy.  It’s worth the wait – I promise!

Bring me butter and jam - NOW!!!
Bring me butter and jam – NOW!!!

Allowing the bread to cool makes the crumb lighter and helps the loaf keep it’s shape.

 

Toasting takes this bread to another level!!
Toasting takes this bread to another level!!

Yummy, scrummy a big bite for my rumbly tummy!

You have to taste this to believe it!
You have to taste this to believe it!

This Crunchy Seeded Bread is perfect for toast ( I know I said that about Oat White Bread – I can have two favourites?!), dunking in soup, eating with Chilli – in fact this bread is perfect for any occasion which requires bread!  So I guess you could call this a  maintenance loaf – perfect for feasting and sharing!

For other bread recipes you might like these?

Wholemeal Cob Loaf   Bread Baked The Easy Way                                               Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia Bread 

 

Sammie x

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Raspberry Almond Muffins

Hi there everybody, thanks for stopping by to take a look at these delicious , Raspberry Almond Muffins. Ideal with a mug of steaming coffee for Breakfast, Elevensies, Mid Afternoon Snack, or anytime your tummy rumbles and your next meal is too far away!!

Crunchy flaked almonds hide the moist, raspberry and almond muffin!
Crunchy flaked almonds hide the moist, raspberry and almond muffin!

What I love about these Raspberry Almond Muffins is they aren’t too sweet, they are proper muffins, dense and moist. Each mouthful filled with the tartness of Fresh Raspberries and the sweet crunch of the flaked Almonds!

Just dive right in. So scrumptious!
Just dive right in. So scrumptious!

This recipe is very easy, you can use fresh or frozen Raspberries (defrosted) and from start to finish these can be made and baked in half an hour!

Recipe : Makes18 Muffins

8 oz:250g  Unsalted Butter – room temp

8 oz/250g  Caster Sugar

4 Large Eggs – pref free range

1/4 tsp  Salt – free flowing (I use Kosher)

1/4tsp  Almond Extract

1 tsp  Vanilla Extract

4 oz/125g  Fresh Raspberries (or frozen raspberries defrosted.

4 oz/125g  Ground Almonds

4 oz/125g. Self Raising White Flour

1/2 tsp  Baking Powder

4 oz/125g  Flaked Almonds

Method : Preheat oven to 175C (160C fan)

Whisk or beat the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. I used an electric whisk, you’ll see why as you read through the recipe!

Add the eggs slowly, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated in the batter. The eggs MUST be room temp for the mixture not to curdle (curdling makes a slightly heavier muffin/cake ). If the mixture starts to curdle add in a tablespoon of your flour, whisk away and watch as your mixture comes, beautifully together again!

Next add the salt, vanilla and almond extracts and half of your raspberries (along with any juice, if using defrosted, frozen raspberries). Whisk until thoroughly combined and enjoy the pretty, natural pink colour!!

Oh, just wait - pink is just a whisk away!!!!
Oh, just wait – pink is just a whisk away!!!!

Now add the ground almonds, flour and baking powder.

That pink's so pretty- oh did I already mention that????
That pink’s so pretty- oh did I already mention that????

I now switch to a spoon and finish mixing the batter by hand. Using the folding technique I mix until the batter is just combined.

So pretty and yummy, I just couldn't resist a taste!!
So pretty and yummy, I just couldn’t resist a taste!!

Place 18 Muffin/Cupcake cases in Muffin tins.  Then using an ice cream scoop (or 2 spoons) fill each Muffin case with a scoopful of Raspberry and Almond Muffin batter (if using spoons fill the cases halfway).

An ice cream scoop provides just the right amount of batter!
An ice cream scoop provides just the right amount of batter!
Using a scoop fills the cases in next to no time!
Using a scoop fills the cases in next to no time!

For the final finish, pop a raspberry (or two – depending how many you have) on the top of each mound of batter.

They look a bit like noses!!!
They look a bit like noses!!!

Next evenly sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of the uncooked Muffins, very gently pressing them into the batter.

When cooked the flaked almonds will hide the tart, crimson raspberry beneath!!
When cooked the flaked almonds will hide the tart, crimson raspberry beneath!!

Place the muffin tins into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if they turn a darker, golden colour than vanilla cupcakes – these Muffins have whole Raspberries whisked into a batter that is 50% ground Almonds  (instead of 100% flour) the darker colour means they’re cooked!!!

So pretty and yummy, you just have to share these!
So pretty and yummy, you just have to share these!

Gorgeous, crunchy on the outside, soft and moist inside. The perfect balance of sweet and tart.

Definitely feasting food, made to share!

 

 

 

 

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Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns

Hi there, how are you today?  These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are so easy to make and are perfect for weekend breakfast with a large mug of Coffee!  They truly define the meaning of Lazy Weekend Breakfast Feasting.

Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com
Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com

Obviously, you don’t have to restrict eating these at breakfast time or just at the weekend – although, as scrummy as they are, I wouldn’t recommend having them everyday! These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are treats, in fact I had them for my birthday brekkie last year (& that was mid week!).

This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself.  After following her recipe a few times I fiddled with it a bit.  The buns were scrummy, but I wanted Pecan nuts inside my buns and preferred the use of Sultanas.  I also changed the ratio of ingredients, as I changed from American cup measures to Metric weight.  I was extremely pleased with the results, I hope you will be to and this easy recipe will inspire you to have a go at making these buns!

Pecan Sultana Sticky Buns www.feastingisfun.com
Pecan Sultana Sticky Buns www.feastingisfun.com

Firstly, I should say that these Sticky Sultana Pecan Buns are made upside down!  That is, they are very similar, in method, to an upside down cake – meaning that you place a brown sugar/butter mixture along with Pecan nuts into the bottom of a deep muffin/cupcake tin, place the buns in top and then when cooked turn the buns out so the bottom of the bun becomes the top!

Don’t worry!  It’s not as confusing as it sounds and I am ALWAYS amazed that the buns turn out perfectly, they never stick and always look so impressive for such little effort.  In fact it really is a Ta Dah moment (I imagine a drumroll in my head!) that never ceases to amaze me and I always end up with a huge smile on my face!

Just a quick note : A proper deep muffin/cupcake tin must be used for this recipe.  A bun/fairy cake tin is too shallow, not only will it be too small for your buns, but you’ll also end up with butter dripping all over your oven.  I also place a baking sheet, a little larger than my cupcake tin, on the rack below, just in case any butter bubbles up and drips over – soo much easier to clean than the whole oven!!

Recipe : Makes 12 Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns

For the Topping:

150g/5oz  Butter – unsalted and softened

75g/3oz Light, Soft Brown Sugar

100g/4oz Pecan Nuts – roughly chopped

For the Buns :

450g/1lb Pack Shop Bought All Butter Puff Pastry

1tbsp  Butter – melted

1 1/2tsp  Cinnamon

150g/5oz Light, Soft Brown Sugar

250g/9oz  Sultanas

100g/4oz Pecan Nuts – roughly chopped

Method :

Preheat the oven to 200C (185C fan).

Firstly, for the topping of the buns mix the softened butter and sugar until well combined.

Using a teaspoon (not a teaspoon measure) scoop 1/2 a teaspoon of the butter/sugar mixture and place into the bottom of the muffin tin, repeating 11 more times.

1/2 a teaspoon is just enough!
1/2 a teaspoon is just enough!
Each muffin cup has a dollop of the sugar/butter mixture!
Each muffin cup has a dollop of the sugar/butter mixture!

Next, divide the 100g of Pecan nuts between each of the muffin cups, placing them on top of the sugar/butter mixture.  Remember, although this is going into the bottom of the tin, when turned out this will become the topping of the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns!

The Pecan nuts become caramelised, golden and sticky during cooking. Yummy!!
The Pecan nuts become caramelised, golden and sticky during cooking. Yummy!!

Now for the Buns :

Lightly dust the worktop with plain, white flour.  Roll out the all butter puff pastry, with a floured rolling pin. You need a square shape that is approx 34 x 34cm.

All butter pastry really is essential as it adds to the flaky, buttery flavour of the buns.
All butter pastry really is essential as it adds to the flaky, buttery flavour of the buns.

Next, trim the top and bottom of the pastry square and brush with the melted butter.  Then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the whole of the square.

Don't worry about the odd few lumps in the sugar, they'll just add to the stickiness of the buns!!
Don’t worry about the odd few lumps in the sugar, they’ll just add to the stickiness of the buns!!

Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the sugar layer.

The smell of cinnamon fills the house when these buns are baking.
The smell of cinnamon fills the house when these buns are baking.

Now you can sprinkle firstly the Sultanas and the the chopped Pecan nuts, so they cover the pastry evenly.

Nice and evenly spread, now it's time to get a-rolling!!!
Nice and evenly spread, now it’s time to get a-rolling!!!

Starting at the front edge of the pastry, evenly roll over the edge of the pastry, tucking it under itself ( not too tightly). Then proceed to roll until you have a log shape, with the join underneath.

A nice even roll along the front edge of the pastry.
A nice even roll along the front edge of the pastry.
Keep rolling so the pastry is an even log shape.
Keep rolling so the pastry is an even log shape.
Trim the side edges of the log.
Trim the side edges of the log.

Next, using a sharp knife, mark the middle of the log. Then mark each half of the log in the middle. Now divide each marked section into 3 separate pieces. You should now have 12 buns!

Use a very sharp knife to slice through each section - so you get a nice clean edge to each bun.
Use a very sharp knife to slice through each section – so you get a nice clean edge to each bun.

Carefully place each bun, cut side up, on top of the butter/sugar/Pecan mixture in the muffin tin. Squish a little bit if needed and don’t worry if a little of the filling falls out in transit, you can always pop errant Pecans and Sultanas into any gaps once all the buns are in the muffin tin!

All ready to be popped into the preheated oven.
All ready to be popped into the preheated oven.

Place the tin into a preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. The Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are cooked when the pastry is golden and puffed.

Ooh yummy! But be careful, they will come out of oven very hot.
Ooh yummy! But be careful, they will come out of oven very hot.

I just love to watch them bubbling and breath in their cinnamon scent when they first come out of the oven – it’s the little things in life that give me most pleasure!!!!!

Wait a few (3 ish but no longer than 5) minutes, then wearing oven gloves place a baking sheet (that is at least the same size as your muffin tin) over the top of the muffin tin and turn over. I promise the buns will drop out! Remove the muffin tin and stare in amazement at your gorgeous Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns– all 12 of them!! See I told you, they really are easy and they turn out every single time.

Perfectly turned out Sticky Pecan and Sultana Buns.
Perfectly turned out Sticky Pecan and Sultana Buns.

Leave to cool – remember all that bubbling and sizzling was butter and sugar boiling very hot!!

Serve warm with nothing but a hot drink of your choice, sit back, relax and smile!

These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are perfect for breakfast, brunch, mid afternoon coffee. I think these are at their most delicious shared with friends & family who unexpectedly pop round! These are best served warm, so pop in a 140C oven whilst the kettle boils and serve with a steaming cup of coffee and a smile!

These scrummy Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns keep well in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen for up to 1 month. When needed, remove from freezer, place on a baking sheet and allow to defrost (this doesn’t take long 1-2 hrs depending on the room temperature), refresh and warm in a 180C oven for 5 minutes and serve.

Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com
Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com

I really hope that you give the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns a try as not only are they easy to make, they are scrumptious and everyone who tries them has a big smile on their face!!!

Sammie x

 

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Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies

Hello, how are you today?  If you’ve taken a look at my blog before, you might have noticed that I rather like Cookies, ooh and Biscuits (is there a difference??)!  This recipe for Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies started forming in my brain last week – but I was out of oats.  I’m very glad I ordered some with my shopping cos these Cookies are scrumptiously moreish!!

Apricot and Oat Crumble Cookies - afternoon tea at its best!
Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies – afternoon tea at its best!

I like to play around with textures as well as tastes and with these Crumbly Oaty Cookies you also get nice nuggets of Apricot which have a lovely chewy texture.  The addition of Demerera sugar also adds a very slight toffee taste and extra crunch.  So all good then!

The first batch of Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies were made and baked.  My special friend and chief taste tester agreed to the arduous task of tasting them – it’s a tough job, but she manages!!!  They were given a thumbs up!! Obviously I had to try one as well and they are scrummy, plus with fruit and oats in them they must be good for you.  Well that’s my theory anyhow!!

Recipe : ApricoT Oat Crumble Cookies

2oz  Demerera Sugar

3oz  Caster Sugar

8oz  Unsalted Butter – room temp

1 Large Egg Yolk – pref. free range

1tsp  Vanilla Extract

1/8tsp Salt – I use Kosher

4oz  Dried Apricots

4oz  Ordinary Rolled Porridge Oats (not quick cook)

6oz  Plain White Flour

Method :

In a bowl cream the butter and sugars together, ideally with an electric whisk (by hand with a wooden spoon is fine, just ensure the mixture is well beaten.

The whisked butter and sugars. The Demerara sugar gives the mixture more colour.
The whisked butter and sugars. The Demerara sugar gives the mixture more colour.

Add the egg yolk, vanilla extract and salt to the mixture and beat in well.  Take the dried Apricots and chop them roughly into small 1/2cm pieces.  You want the pieces of Apricot small enough so that they distribute evenly throughout the cookie dough, but big enough to be golden nuggets of chewy fruit that contrast with the crumbly cookie texture.

Here's a pic of how I chopped the apricots!
Here’s a pic of how I chopped the apricots!

Into the bowl add the oats, flour and place the chopped apricots on top.  Mix together until just combined.

Placing the chopped apricots in top of the flour helps to stop them all clumping together.
Placing the chopped apricots in top of the flour helps to stop them all clumping together.

Scoop a desert spoonful of the cookie dough and shape into a ball using your hands. I placed 6 cookie dough balls on both of the baking trays I used. Obviously the bigger the ball, the larger the cooked cookie will be!

Note : Unless you are confident that your baking trays are non stick, it’s best to line them with parchment paper.

Lightly press down on the dough balls, to flatten them into an even round shape.  Place the baking trays in the I’ve and cook for 15-25 minutes until golden brown on the bottom (see photo).  Again the cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your cookies.

Note the underside is much deeper in colour than the top.
Note the underside is much deeper in colour than the top.

If the bottom is not golden (as above) return your cookies to the oven for an extra couple of minutes.  The first tray I got out of the oven looked fine, however, when I tried to turn the cookie over to check the underneath, it completely fell apart – I put the tray bake in the oven for an extra 5 minutes and the photo above shows the result!

When cooked properly, even whilst still warm, the cookie will hold it’s shape, allowing you to check the underside.  Leave the cookies to cool completely on the baking tray.

Whilst cooling, ring a friend, or your mum, or someone you’ve been meaning to invite round for ages.  Pop the kettle on, quickly clean up (vacuum, throw some bleach down the loo, anti bac wipe the cat…..). No, no, no!! Whoever you’ve invited round doesn’t want to see you (and the cat!) frazzled to within an inch of your life. Relax.  Put on some whale music if necessary (although if you need that you might want to invite so and so tomorrow – just saying!!!).

Tea anyone???
Tea anyone???

Enjoy feasting and having a good natter, with a friend, over Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies.  Have fun catching up and sharing in each other’s news.  One of the most precious gifts you can give is your time. We all feel loved and valued when others take time out of their busy schedules to share part of their day with us!

I know, because my sister – who is the best sis in the world – took time out of her day for me today.  Thanks babes, love you with all my heart xx.

Sammie x

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Herb Meatballs with Simple Tomato Sauce

Hi there, as I look out of the window I can see it’s ‘Cloudy – with more than a chance of Meatballs, for dinner!’ I know, very bad joke but I couldn’t resist.  The same way I couldn’t resist making Meatballs today after seeing someone cook them on TV yesterday!!!

Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.
Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.

I haven’t a clue which, if any, recipe they were following, these Herb Meatballs in a super Simple Tomato Sauce are my own creation!  Let’s hope they are a hit with the family, when served with spaghetti later?  Oh who am I kidding?  Hunger default status is always STARVING with our family when Meatballs are on the menu!!

I’ve used a combination of beef mince and pork sausage meat for these little Meatballs.  I have made them using all beef, but I find them a bit heavy (even using breadcrumbs & egg to lighten them).  I’ve also made Turkey meatballs, but that’s a whole kettle of fish ( not that they contain fish!)!!!!!

Just a quick note : There is a bit of prep work involved in making these meatballs, but the tomato sauce is so quick it really takes no longer than making a bolognaise sauce and the meatballs really do make a delicious change – so I think it’s worth it?  If you try this recipe I’d love to know how get on?


Recipe : This serves 6-8 hungry people!

For the Meatballs

1  Large Onion

1 tbsp  Olive Oil

1 1/2lb  (750g)Beef Mince (pref. less than 10% fat content)

1lb  (500g) Pork Sausage meat

1  Large Garlic Clove

2  Fresh Sage Leaves (1/4tsp dried sage)

3  Fresh Thyme Sprigs (1/4tsp dried thyme)

1tsp  Sea salt (1/2tsp free flowing salt)

1 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper

For the Simple Tomato Sauce

2 x 400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes

2tbsp  Tomato Puree

2  Sprigs Fresh Thyme (1/4tsp dried thyme)

1/2tsp  Sugar

1/2tsp  Sea salt (1/4tsp free flowing salt)

1/2tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper


Method : Making the Meatballs

Chop up the onion as finely as possible.  Add the oil to a frying pan and sauté over a low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, but not browned.

Sautéed onions, ready to cool down.
Sautéed onions, ready to cool down.

Set the pan aside and allow the onions to cool down.  Place the minced beef, sausage meat, cooled onion, salt, pepper, minced garlic and freshly chopped (or dried) herbs.

All the meatball ingredients in the bowl together!
All the meatball ingredients in the bowl together!

Using a fork, gently combine all the ingredients together.  I’ve found, if I squish them together using my hand (I like squishing, it’s fun – so if I could, I would!!!!) the meatballs end up too dense.

Using a fork to gently combine all the meatball ingredients.
Using a fork to gently combine all the meatball ingredients.

Next, scoop about a teaspoonful of mixture and lightly roll into a ball in between your hands – wet hands make the job easier!  Continue until all of the meatball mixture is used up – I managed 54 meatballs!!

Not perfect spheres but they'll taste just fine, once cooked!
Not perfect spheres but they’ll taste just fine, once cooked!

Heat the pan that you used for sautéing the onions on a medium heat – I didn’t add any more oil, but feel free if yours isn’t non stick.  Add the meatballs so they only form one layer in the pan (overcrowding the pan means the meatballs won’t have contact with direct heat and won’t brown properly). Leave them for 1-2 minutes and then gently turn, repeating the process until the meatballs are nicely browned all over (as they were so small I found it easier to turn them in the pan using 2 desert spoons instead of tongs). Remove from the pan and place on a clean plate.


Making the Simple Tomato Sauce

Using the same pan as before, discard any remaining oil safely – it will be hot so allow to cool and wipe the pan with a handful of kitchen roll.  Now add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, refilling each tin, roughly halfway with water, swill around to catch every bit of juice a pour into the pan.  Add the tomato purée, herbs, sugar,salt and pepper.  Bring to a  simmer and leave to bubble away gently for 30-40 minute.  The Simple Tomato Sauce is done!!

Super easy, super simple tomato sauce.
Super easy, super simple tomato sauce.

Place the meatballs in a large, ovenproof dish and pour over the tomato sauce.  Heat through for 30-40 minutes, until piping hot and then serve with pasta, rice, crusty bread or even a salad!!

Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.
Yummy, bites sized herb meatballs in a simple tomato sauce.

This can easily be a GLUTEN AND DAIRY FREE dish if you use sausage meat – without rusk or wheat added (I buy mine from www.graigfarmirgaincs), as no breadcrumbs or egg are added to the meatball mixture.

A delicious dish that everyone (well not vegetarians I guess) that can be shared and feasted on by friends and family!

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Turkey and Leek Pie

Hi there, thank you for stopping by to take a look at my Recipe for Turkey and Leek Pie, topped with mountains of Mash.  This is a fantastic recipe for using up leftover Turkey after Christmas or Thanksgiving!

Crunchy mash topped pie, hiding chunks of Turkey in a delicious sauce - pass me a plate I'm hungry?!!!!
Crunchy mash topped pie, hiding chunks of Turkey in a delicious sauce – pass me a plate I’m hungry?!!!!

The News has been awash with statistics and reports of how much food we throw away, or waste as a nation.  Now I’m not suggesting you try to make a pie  out of the gooey apple, fermenting at the bottom of the fruit bowl – however, lots of us eat Turkey over the holiday period and Roast Chicken (which makes a great substitute for this pie) throughout the rest of the year.  This recipe will show you one, easy way to make a delicious meal with leftover Turkey!!

Yesterday we had a roasted Turkey crown for Sunday dinner.  It was seriously yummy!  But, I was left with one complete Turkey breast, cooked and in the fridge!!!  What to do??

Today I decided to make a Turkey and Leek pie, topped with Mashed Potatoes instead of pastry.  Alternative toppings for this pie could include : sliced potatoes,  flaky pastry, savoury crumble topping, herbed breadcrumbs.  If you try any of these please let me know how you get on?

Recipe : This Pie will serve 6 people

1 1/2 – 2 lb  (750g- 1Kg) Cooked Turkey cut into 1 inch chunks

2  Medium Leeks

4 oz  Butter (split in two)

1 tbsp  Olive Oil

2 tbsp  Vermouth or White Wine

1 tbsp  Plain White Flour

1/2 of a Chicken Stock Cube

3 tbsp + extra  Whole Milk

1.5 Kg  Peeled Potatoes (Maris Piper/Desiree or any floury potato suitable for mashing)

2  Sprigs Fresh Thyme

Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Method :

Peel and chop the potatoes, place in a saucepan and cover with water.  Add  a pinch of salt, bring to the boil and then simmer until tender when pierced with a knife.  Drain the potatoes, place them back into the saucepan with 2 tbsp of butter and milk. Clamp on the lid and leave off the heat for 5 minutes.  Next, adding a good grinding of black pepper, mash the potatoes, set aside to cool.

Place 2tbsp of the butter and the Olive oil into a frying pan over a medium heat.  Chop the leeks into small dice, rinse thoroughly, pat dry and add to the melted butter and oil in the frying pan.

Bright green, uncooked leeks. They fill the pan!!
Bright green, uncooked leeks. They fill the pan!!

Ensuring the mash reaches the edges of the pie dish will help stop the sauce from leaking out during cooking.

Add a pinch of salt and sauté over a low heat. You don’t want the leeks to colour,  just to become soft and slightly translucent.

The sautéed leeks have lost their bright colour and shrunk in the pan as they've cooked!
The sautéed leeks have lost their bright colour and shrunk in the pan as they’ve cooked!

Next add 1 tbsp of flour, stirring so the chopped leeks are covered in the flour. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes – this will ensure the finished sauce doesn’t have a floury flavour.

The flour mixes with the butter and oil to thicken the sauce once the liquid has been added.
The flour mixes with the butter and oil to
thicken the sauce once the liquid has been added.

Add a splash of Vermouth or white wine (if you prefer to not use alcohol, just skip this stage).  Mix thoroughly over a low heat, cooking for a couple of minutes – this stops the finished sauce from tasting floury!  Next add a good splash (30-40mls) of milk.

The sauce will have a very thin consistency. Keep stirring!!!
The sauce will have a very thin consistency. Keep stirring!!!
After a couple of minutes the sauce will thicken.
After a couple of minutes the sauce will thicken.

Crumble in half of a chicken stock cube. When fully incorporated into the sauce, have a quick taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to season.  Next strip 2 fresh Thyme sprigs and add the Thyme leaves to the leek sauce.  Set to one side and allow to cool.

Cut the cold, cooked Turkey (or chicken) into 1 inch chunks and place into a pie dish. Cover the Turkey with the leek sauce.

 

Turkey chunks covered in leek sauce, flecked with Thyme leaves.
Turkey chunks covered in leek sauce, flecked with Thyme leaves.

Now you can cover the Turkey/Leek mixture with mountains of Mashed Potato. Pile the mash up high and then, using a fork, ruffle up the surface (this will ensure an extra crunchy topping when cooked!).

Ensuring the mash reaches the edges of the pie dish will help stop the sauce from leaking out during cooking.
Ensuring the mash reaches the edges of the pie dish will help stop the sauce from leaking out during cooking.

At this stage the Turkey and Leek Pie can be wrapped in cling film and placed in the fridge for a couple of days until needed.  Or double wrapped in cling and popped into the freezer for up to one month – defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating.

To cook the pie, preheat the oven to 190C  (175C fan), place the pie dish on a baking sheet.  Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 1hour, until bubbling around the sides, golden and crunchy on top and piping hot all the way through.

Scrumptious......
Scrumptious……

The ultimate winter comfort food Turkey and Leek Pie, perfect for sharing and sure to put a smile on the face of those who try it!!!!!!

Until next time I hope I’ve inspired you to get creative with leftovers, smile and have fun.

Sammie xx

 

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