Important Stuff

Good morning to all you lovely people. Whatever today holds for you I hope when you read through this blog the Important Stuff will encourage you to smile & when you smile I hope that it encourages others to smile too.
It may sound odd, but I actually believe that HAPPINESS is a choice for most of us (please don’t think I am any way mocking people who are depressed, anxious, lonely, grieving, sad & all other manner of terrible situations – I ABSOLUTELY AM NOT). When I say Happiness is a choice, what I’m mean is that during the hundreds of thousands of situations & circumstances we are in & go through in life, most of us have a choice.
That choice usually represents itself simply as: Do I concentrate on all the bad stuff that I’m going through at the moment, or amidst the darkness & fog that I’m in, do I try to find something Good & Positive to hold on to?
I’ve said being Happy is a choice for most of us – I didn’t say it was easy! Of all the difficult circumstances that I’ve only just started to touch on, I’ve been through most & more. But I’M NOT SAD! I should be but I’m not.

Sometimes the dark clouds stop us from clearly seeing the light.
Sometimes the dark clouds stop us from clearly seeing the light.

Some may say that’s easy for me, I have a loving family & friends: you can still be lonely in a roomful of people. Others may argue that we all naturally have periods of sadness in our lives: that is true, but it is our choice as to how long we dwell on them. Still others may say ” You don’t understand, my situation is HOPELESS & I can’t see a way out”. To those I say, I’ve been there. Whilst I may not know exactly the circumstances of your situation, I do understand what it is like to be trapped, with no clear exit route in view.
My life has never been a bed of roses, EVER! I face daily challenges & also difficult memories. Yet I still smile.
I smile because amongst all the darkness I choose, to see LIGHT. Amongst all the noise I listen for the bird song. Against all the ugliness of a situation I will SEEK OUT the beauty. I make the choice to find the POSITIVE amongst the negative.
I also have HOPE. A never ending certain HOPE. I KNOW that I am LOVED.

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT STUFF you will ever read.

The Cross - where Hope, Love & Life are found.
The Cross – where Hope, Love & Life are found.

A man named Jesus, a long time ago, took all the wrong doing that is in this world, all the injustice, hatred, hopelessness & sin upon HIS shoulders & died on a Cross. Naked, humiliated, despised by the very people He had come to help – Jesus knows loneliness, pain, neglect, suffering – and He still loved them. His love was shown when He took the place of ALL MANKIND, took all the SIN OF THE WORLD and paid the price, that we should have to pay, HE GAVE HIS LIFE, SO THAT WE MAY HAVE LIFE, IN HIM FOREVER.
Not only did He die on the Cross, for us, but HE OVERCAME DEATH WHEN HE AROSE from the dead THREE DAYS LATER. HE OVERCAME DEATH and in doing so laid a path for us to know Him. TO KNOW JESUS AND OUR HEAVENLY FATHER.
Jesus said “I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH & THE LIFE. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH THE SON”.
JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD!! If we know Him, then we too can know God. HE IS OUR LOVING HEAVENLY FATHER.
THIS IS TRULY AMAZING!!!!
Every living person on this beautiful planet IS LOVED BY GOD. Every living person, has at some time, said or done something that is wrong: The Bible calls this Sin.
The penalty for Sin is Death. Whether you believe in God or not, one day every person will stand before God & be Judged – asked to give an account of themselves, their lives & their actions – you can choose not to believe this will happen, I am letting you know IT WILL.
That sounds pretty scary to me. I know I’m not perfect, yet I have nothing to worry about because
“FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON, THAT WHOSOEVER (that’s you & me) BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT DIE BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE”
WOW!!!
No need to be afraid now!!!
GOD LOVES YOU SO MUCH THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON!
Firstly for those of you who are lonely or feel unloved YOU ARE LOVED – GOD LOVES YOU.

Who'd have thought a Caterpillar could transform into this Beautiful Butterfly. Let JESUS transform your life!
Who’d have thought a Caterpillar could transform into this Beautiful Butterfly. Let JESUS transform your life!

Secondly for those of you who are aimlessly walking through life, no real direction (except to go to work, pay your bills, raise your family – but somewhere inside of you, you question: Is there more to this??), JESUS SAID I AM THE WAY!! Now you can have direction – straight to God & ALL the Goodness & Love that He has for you.
Thirdly, for everyone who is searching for something. Looking for a bigger picture, but there are SO MANY religions, ideas to follow: JESUS SAID I AM THE TRUTH. You’ve found your answer. Jesus IS THE WAY TO GOD.
Next, for those of you that feel hopeless, dejected, worthless: JESUS SAID I AM THE LIFE. A life lived with JESUS has HOPE, PURPOSE, WORTH.
GOD LOVES YOU SO MUCH THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON.
JESUS LOVES YOU SO MUCH THAT HE WAS WILLING TO DIE ON THE CROSS, BEARING THE PUNISHMENT WE SHOULD RECEIVE. HIS MOTIVATION – PURE LOVE FOR US AND TO DO THE WILL OF HIS FATHER.
He gave His life freely, at any point He could of spoken up in His own defense & saved Himself, but He Didn’t – HE GAVE HIS LIFE FREELY.
JESUS IS THE LIGHT OF THIS WORLD.
What does all this mean personally to me?
I am loved, I am not worthless, I have a purpose, God has a plan for me. I know the truth. If I ask God to forgive me for all I’ve done wrong, acknowledge Jesus as His Son – I AM SAVED BY HIS GRACE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST MY LORD AND SAVIOUR.
I no longer live a life without purpose but can smile each day, even through the tough times, for I know, I AM ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN, that JESUS WHO IS THE LIFE, lives in me, by the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Not only that, but God promises ETERNAL LIFE TO ALL (not a chosen few elite individuals).
I have a lot TO SMILE ABOUT!!!
You too can make this choice. Indeed nothing in life is more important, God is waiting with His arms open wide for you. His desire is that you would know HOW LOVED YOU ARE.
I know this sounds ‘Too good to be true’, but I promise you it isn’t. God loves you whether you love Him back or not.
God accepts you no matter what life you have lived, or however bad you think you are.
GOD’S GIFT OF SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST IS FREE.
You cannot work for it, earn or buy it. Jesus desires to be part of your life. He wants to be the SMILE IN YOUR HEART.
As for me I love my Lord JESUS with all of my heart. He has helped me, healed me, guided and protected me & saved me.

Important Stuff is the most important post I have written to date!

If you too would like to know JESUS as your personal Saviour and Friend, then you can pray to God now!
Ask Him to forgive you for all the wrong you have done, acknowledge JESUS as God’s Son and ask Him to come into your life, to be your Lord and guide you. Ask God to reveal His love for you through the bible & to guide you to a local Christian Church that loves God, His Word (the bible), Jesus & God’s Holy Spirit.
If you prayed that prayer CONGRATULATIONS!
I suggest you start reading the Gospel of John, found in the New Testament part of the bible (NIV, NKJV are both very good bibles to start with, accurate & written without thee’s, thou’s & older day language – although personally the King James Bible will always be my preference!). John is the fourth book of the New Testament & before reading I suggest praying & asking God to reveal Himself to you through His Written Word.
Finally it would be lovely if you would share your experience in the comments box. If you would rather I did not make your words public, then please say so & I promise not to publish your comments.
Also if you would genuinely like more information, please leave a message & I will do my best to help.
No disrespect to people of other Faiths, but I will not get drawn into time wasting arguments regarding this post, I will only answer genuine queries & politely ask that you respect this.

There is NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT OR PRECIOUS THAN KNOWING JESUS AS YOUR VERY OWN LORD AND PERSONAL SAVIOUR.

IMPORTANT STUFF is and always will be THE most important post on the blog.
Thank you for reading, I pray that God will open your heart to His love.

There may still be clouds, but the Son if God Shines Brighter
There may still be clouds, but the Son of God Shines Brighter

Sammie xx

 

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STILL TO COME………

FUTURE RECIPES TO BE POSTED!!

The most requested will be posted first.  So please leave your preference in the comments box?  Thank you, your comments are appreciated.

HAZELNUT & NUTELLA CHOCOLATE MARBLE CAKE:
I had this for lunch 3 days in a row!!! So moist & delicious!!!
I had this for lunch 3 days in a row!!! So moist & delicious!!!
CHICKEN, SPINACH & RICOTTA LASAGNE:
Chicken & Ricotta Lasagne - scrumptious!!!!!
Chicken & Ricotta Lasagne – scrumptious!!!!!
BLUEBERRY & NECTARINE PAVLOVA:
This has to be tasted, to understand how sublime it is!!!!!
This has to be tasted, to understand how sublime it is!!!!!
WHITE MILK ROLLS
Soft, delicious rolls, ideal for packed lunches & picnics!!!!!
Soft, delicious rolls, ideal for packed lunches & picnics!!!!!
ANYTHING BUT PLAIN: VICTORIA SANDWICH CAKE
Light, Fluffy, Moist Cake with Jam in the Middle & Sparkles o
Light, Fluffy, Moist Cake with Jam in the Middle & Sparkles on the top!!! Perfect for a family celebration xx
TEAR & SHARE ICED FRUIT BUNS
Made for sharing, totally delicious & good for you!!! Well they contain fruit......
Made for sharing, totally delicious & good for you!!! Well they contain fruit……

 

Ooh now what are these going to make?
Ooh now what are these going to make?

More recipes will be added soon.

Meanwhile thank you for taking time to read my blog.  I hope it makes you smile and encourages you to make every meal  a feast, shared with loved ones with whom you will have lots of fun.

Remember food is the catalyst for feasting: people with whom you share your food & time, are the most important factor.  They are the ones that make FEASTING FUN!!!

 

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TRIPLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES: Fit For a Princess

Chocolate & Sparkles: Brownies fit for a celebration!!!!!
Chocolate & Sparkles: Brownies fit for a celebration!!!!!

Hi there. How are you today? Me, well it’s one of those days where I’m sitting or laying down (millions of things I want to do, but my body isn’t having any if it!), so I can chat to you – via Blogging.

I do hope you enjoy my musings, memories & recipes?

I’ve spoken a lot about the pleasure I get from sharing the food that I have made.  Also I have found that, not only are you lovely people who read my blog, enjoying the recipes, but they are inspiring you to ‘have a go’. That’s FANTASTIC & thank you.

What I love about anything that I cook myself is, I know absolutely EVERYTHING that is going into the recipe, which ultimately means, I know, as a family I KNOW what we are putting into our bodies. I am sometimes horrified by the list of ingredients, if I’m tempted to buy a nice crusty loaf from my local supermarket, I read the ingredients & any desire I may have felt to pop the item into my trolley vanishes.

Please DO NOT be under the impression that I’m a complete Puritan when it comes to food, or anything else for that matter, I absolutely AM NOT!!!!

I’m happy to occasionally order a pizza, Indian, Chinese – gasp, horror – very occasional McDonalds!!!!! I’m a relatively normal mum, wife, slightly scatty woman. My family may disagree with the ‘relatively normal’ part!!!

I love humour & recently reduced our gorgeous, soon to be 12 years old, son to tears – from laughter (no need to call Childline just yet!!) whilst recounting a story from my past. His gorgeous freakly face, bright red, with tears spilling over his cheeks, laughing uncontrollably. A precious moment that will be always remembered. And it was whilst we were all sitting round the table, eating dinner – FEASTING & HAVING FUN!!

What I do find when I eat out, or order in, is that my brain goes into overdrive. Whilst munching I’m already thinking of ways to improve, change, add to, whatever food I am enjoying at that moment.

I suppose at the heart of everything I cook/bake is a desire to do better. If I can buy a cake in a shop, that is nice, good or even really great: I want to firstly be able to recreate the cake & then improve it until it is WONDERFUL. I am the same with all foods & recipes, including my own!

I have a wonderful family, one exceptionally special friend (who is ‘officially’ my quality control ‘taste tester’) and a group of friends who I know will give me HONEST feedback – which, for me is SO IMPORTANT. I am my worse critic! Always fiddling with recipes to see if I can improve just a little bit more! Very occasionally I will try a recipe & it’s so fantastic I never, ever deviate. An example if this is my annual Christmas Cake Recipe. I’ve made it every year for at least 15 years & it works. So the only things that are ever changed are the icing and decorations!!!!

Anyhow time to stop waffling and share the Sparkly, Triple Chocolate Brownies:

YOU WILL NEED:

2 x   6″x 8″ foil containers (with lids)

10oz  Dark Brown Sugar

5oz  Unsalted Butter

2oz  Cocoa Powder

5oz  Plain White Flour

1/4 tsp.  Salt (I use Kosher – no additives)

1tsp  Baking Soda

1tsp  Vanilla Extract (I use Madagascan vanilla extract by Nelson Massey)

4  Large Eggs at room temp (preferably FREE RANGE – happy chickens lay better eggs!!)

6oz  Milk Chocolate – chopped into chunks

4oz  White Chocolate – melted for drizzling over the top

Silver Dragee Ball, Edible Glitter or whatever Edible Sparkly Sprinkles you wish to use.

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 180C (165C fan oven).

Firstly melt the butter, either in a large microwaveable bowl or large saucepan. Whichever you use this will become the mixing bowl for the entire Brownie batter.

Add the brown sugar to the melted butter. Mix thoroughly until both are combined.

Now add the salt & cocoa powder. Mix thoroughly – if you add the cocoa now, before adding the flour, it incorporates into the butter/sugar mixture very easily.

Next add the flour & bicarbonate of soda. Mix thoroughly (I use a wooden spoon), it takes a couple of minutes to completely incorporate all the ingredients.

Lightly beat the eggs together in a jug & add the vanilla.

When the flour mixture is cool enough to touch add the egg/vanilla mixture & beat into the flour mixture.  Be patient it does take a little time for the wet & dry to combine. You will be left with a fairly runny Brownie batter.

Pour half of the batter into one foil container, then pour the other half into the other container. If you are using one container pour all the batter in.

Tap the containers a couple of times against the work top. This brings any air bubbles to the surface: REMEMBER BROWNIES SHOULD BE DENSE & FUDGEY NOT LIGHT & AIRY LIKE CAKES.

Sprinkle the chopped milk chocolate evenly over the top of the brownie batter. Then using your fingers or a fork gently push the chocolate into the batter. Lick your fingers, then wash your hands!!!!!

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-18 mins for the smaller containers: 20-25 mins if using a larger container.

As all ovens vary, the Brownies are cooked when they are set around the edge & on top, but still have a little wobble in the middle.

Remove from the oven & allow the Brownies to fully cool in their container.

Once cooled get creative!!! Melt the white chocolate (I microwave for approx 30 secs, then stir thoroughly until I have smooth melted chocolate. Or you can place the white chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a simmering saucepan of water – ensuring the bowl doesn’t touch the water- stir constantly as white chocolate is the easiest to overheat!).

Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled brownies. Then adorn with silver balls, edible glitter or whatever you have chosen.

You can never have too many sparkles!!!!
You can never have too many sparkles!!!!

Allow the chocolate to set then cut up the brownies in the dish. The size is up to you!!!!

Share these very special Brownies with friends & family.

Watch the smiles on their faces get all chocolatey!!!!!!

And remember SHARING & FEASTING IS FUN!!!


 

Sammie x

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Feast Your Eyes on this Beauty !!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!!!
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!!!

The startling beauty of this Dahlia, blooming it’s socks (if indeed it wore them) off!!  The beauty of this flower is breath taking.

Feasting is not just about the food we eat, however scrumptious that may be. It is also about Feasting your eyes on the magnificence of the wondrous, amazing world in which we live.

A perfect velvet red rose from my hubby on our wedding anniversary.
A perfect velvet red rose from my hubby on our wedding anniversary.

I’ve been unwell for a few days, however I refuse to become jaded, dejected & cynical, because I am laid up in bed in darkness.

For their is a light that burns brightly in me , a light that burns brightly when times are testing, a hope that holds me when all else is crumbling, a love that is unending & cannot be quantified, Grace that covers my wrong doings and a person who has ALWAYS got my back.

HIS NAME IS JESUS.

Through whom all creation was made.

All creation cries out to the Glory of God the Father and Jesus His Son.

Thank you Precious Heavenly Father that you who gave up your Son that He might carry the sins of all peoples, past, present & future.

Feast your eyes on this beauty that surrounds you and Focus your Heart on Him who Saves – Jesus.

Large white Dahlia - stunning.
Large white Dahlia – stunning.

Life with Jesus is fun. I DO NOT serve a dead god, but a RISEN SAVIOUR, who overcame death that we may ALL KNOW THE FATHER THROUGH HIM.

If you REALLY think about our world, it’s wondrous diversity and beauty – then imagine that it evolved over millions of years, you are really missing out on the craftsmanship of our Creator God.

I sincerely ask you to judge the beauty of a sunset and question if we evolved a) what purpose does it have?? & b) why does the beauty touch something deep inside of us??  Does it make sense??

A refraction of light – or a reminder of God’s promise?

image

Until next time I encourage you to really open your eyes, FEAST on the autumn leaves changing colour (did that actually NEED to be so??).

Until next time FEAST your eyes on your surroundings. Beauty is everywhere, including inside of you xx

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What a feast we had!!

If I were a fairy, this cake would be my home xx
If I were a fairy, this cake would be my home xx

Hi there. I really do hope that you are having a good day? If not I hope tomorrow is better for you.

As for me, eldest daughter is having  a sleepover tonight with some friends. So of  course we’ve had plenty of fun and feasting- although  how much sleep is had tonight I can only guess at!!

They are all lovely girls and all four of their birthdays are near each other, so I thought it would be nice to make them all a special cupcake,

Sharing their birthday celebrations together, with a pretty cupcake tower
Sharing their birthday celebrations together, with a pretty cupcake tower!!

Now before I get into the feasting frivolities, I feel it is necessary to share with you my love of fairy lights. They add such sparkle to a room. With one flick of the switch a nice room becomes a magical party room. And they make me smile, especially when I see them reflected in a mirror. It’s like an extra bonus (buy one get one free!!!). I feel so much better having shared that as it will help to further explain my other love……

Sparkles, whether it is a shimmering, sun lit sea scape, or a harsh overnight frost followed by a sun lit, clear blue sky. The way the ice crystals sparkle under the bright low sun  & spiders webs, beautifully defined by the ice crystals, look like something straight out of an Enid Blyton fairy story.

But sparkles, although enchanting in nature, can also be used to turn a pretty cupcake, into a spectacular one. I’m talking edible glitter here people & the world – my world – loves to sprinkle a little glitter whenever the occasion allows ( I satisfy myself with a daily application of sparkly lip gloss – & I’m happy about that!!).  Christmas (as well as properly remembering & giving thanks to God for the birth of his son Jesus) sees me in my element, totally immersed in fairy lights, tinsel, baubles & pots & pots of glitter – edible or otherwise.

Anyhow back to this blog! Here’s a couple of photos of the vanilla & chocolate cupcakes (I’m proud of the restraint I showed whilst decorating them!!!!

Chocolate, but sparkly & classy!!
Chocolate, but sparkly & classy!!

So I made a couple of pizzas (thank you Mr Bread machine), some coleslaw, garlic bread – with fresh Thyme – my fav so far, well today, baked oven potato wedges, cocktail sausages & sausage rolls ( the last 3 cooked from a packet – I know my limits!!), added a couple of dips, crisps & crudités & the feast was complete. The hungry teenagers got stuck in!!

Many hands make pizza disappear quickly!!!!
Many hands make pizza disappear quickly!!!!

And I’m not sure I have ever heard so much laughter, seen such happy faces or seen pizza disappear quite so quickly. It made me glad and thankful.

Thankful that I am married to a man who loves me sooo deeply, flaws an all. Thankful that we have 3 beautiful, loving, caring & thoughtful children. The BEST family anyone could ever hope for & secure in the knowledge that we are loved by the best man who ever walked this earth, Jesus.

He is our strength & our refuge. It is only by being full up & constantly refilled with His unending love that we can deal with daily challenges & still smile. Thank you Lord.

I hope that you too know my friend Jesus, He IS the smile that lives in my heart.

If you don’t know Him & the Vast love & forgiveness He has for you, please leave a comment & I will get back to you with more info?

Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I’m not very tech savvy & everything I have written & photographed on my phone!!!!

Until next time, & I say this as much to myself as you, try to react in a kind, considerate way the next time someone puts an obstacle in your path & if you can smile through it, all the better xx

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“Here are a few of my favourite things”!

I make no apology for loving the Sound of Music!!! Good day to you all. How are you today. I’m posting a few photos of some of my favourite things. Whilst taking a peek, sing along with Julie Andrews – “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens”…….

Now I bet you’re smiling (well I’m not actually much of a gambler, but I hope you are smiling?). Our soppy, snuggly cat Jake – who also has the nickname ‘Swiper’!!!! And our gorgeous loyal Golden, she’s not learned to retrieve yet, Rosebud. Jake is most definitely the boss. As long as Bud follows Jake’s rules they live together in purrrfect harmony!!!

Jake & Bud sunbathing together!! Sooo cute xxx
Jake & Bud sunbathing together!! Sooo cute xxx

Roses are my favourite flower today! Actually I love all flowers (except bindweed, dandelions, in fact all weeds – so actually, to be accurate, most flowers!). One solitary rose, blooming on a very rainy day!

A beautiful, scented, climbing rose that was crying out to be noticed.
A beautiful, scented, climbing rose that was crying out to be noticed.

My wonderful mummy who inspires me to be creative, samples the results & who loves & encourages me.

This lemon iced, fruity, tear and share bread is one of our favourite creations, so far!!!!

I love you mummy xxxxx

Sooo good!!!! Xxxxxxxxxxxx
Sooo good!!!

I love, love, love Christmas.  I had soo much fun making the garland below, using evergreens found in my garden – ooh and some holly from my gorgeous friend’s (the Green Goddess!!!) garden.

My homemade garland with twinkly fairy lights.
My homemade garland with twinkly fairy lights.

I used florists wire, Yew, Bay, Holly & Ivy.  Lots of imagination, a good sprinkle of determination, a dash of patience and fairy lights!!!  It was so much fun to make!

I hope you have a good day. Remember there’s always time to stop & smell the roses. I did & was richly rewarded.

Until next time, share a smile, you may just brighten up someone’s day. XX

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Oat White Bread – Ideal for Toast!!

Hello again it’s me!! I know, such an unoriginal introduction. But here I most definitely am and I bring with me a scrumptious recipe for Oat White Bread.

I made bread today – I use made in the most liberal sense of the word; I weighed some stuff, poured some stuff flipped a switch & my trusty bread maker kneaded, proved & knocked back the dough, I then, in an effort to feel like I had contributed to the ‘making’ process shaped the loaf, placed the dough in a tin, placed that tin in a hot oven, turned out the cooked loaf, washed up the tin (phew I’m working up a sweat just thinking about all that activity – do you think I could successfully turn cooking into a fitness video??? Answers on a postcard please?!!!).

Anyhow, today wheat flour, oats, yeast, a pinch of salt, water, honey & butter became a rather knobbly looking loaf, in my kitchen. And now I can’t wait for tomorrow morning, cos that means brekkie in bed!

Think Downton Abbey, complete with tray on legs, cuppa tea/coffee and TOAST.  The oaty loaf is nice enough, but it’s in a league of it’s own whe cut, toasted, buttered & spread with jam. The only way you’re really going to understand is if you make some (ideally a day ahead – this bread inproves in flavour over a couple if days).

So I’m going to help you by telling you how I made my loaf.

This recipe is for use with a bread maker or stand mixer (with dough hook attachment). It can easily be made by hand using basic bread making & kneeding skills. Unfortunately due to a very dodgey back I chose, what is for me, the easy option!

This recipe produces a 1 1/2 lb loaf.

You will need :

1 x 2 – 3 lb buttered loaf tin

450g/1 lb Strong White Flour

50g/2 oz Porridge oats (unflavoured, not quick cook), ordinary flat rolled oats

25g/1 oz Unsalted Butter at room temperature

1 tsp honey

1 x 7g Instant Dried Yeast Sachet

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

300 -340ml hand hot Water

Method :

Preheat your oven to its hottest temperature (250C – same for fan oven).

Place 300ml of warm water into the bowl (of you bread maker/stand mixer or wide heavy bowl suitable for mixing dough in).

Add the dried yeast from the sachet & the honey. Mix around with your fingers (I enjoy this bit!)

Place the flour on top of the yeast/water mixture & then add the oats, salt & butter.

if using a bread maker set the machine to the dough cycle and press start!

If using a stand mixer lower the dough hook into the mixture and mix in a low speed for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Remove dough from the bowl & shape into a ball before placing into an oiled bowl. After placing the dough in the oiled bowl, turn the dough over so that both top & bottom have a covering of oil, cover tightly with cling film and leave in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

If making the dough by hand, using your clean hand bring all the ingredients together and mix within the bowl until you have a cohesive ball of dough. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a clean, lightly floured surface. Hand kneed the dough for 10-15 minutes until the dough changes, it will start to feel more elastic, have a smoother form and also appear to work with you when you are kneeding it. Proceed as above for proving your dough.

Once your dough is doubled in size gently ‘knock it back’.  Either use the settings in your bread maker to mix the dough (effectively ‘knocking it back’ for 1 minute, or gently punch down into the large, airy ball of dough in the oiled bowl, pressing & turning the dough to bring it back to almost it’s original size.

Turn out your dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface & stretch the dough lengthways until it is 3 x it’s original length. Take one end and fold it back in, just past the middle part of the dough, repeat with the other end. Turn the dough 90 clockwise and repeat the stretching and folding technique. Repeat this process twice more.

This small, but important process, once incorporated into all my bread making has had an undeniable improvement in the quality, shape, structure and texture of every loaf I have subsequently baked! Who’da thunk it???!!!!

Place the shaped loaf in the buttered tin, cover with a slightly damp tea towel & place in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size (approx 1 – 1 1/2 hours).

When ready, remove the tea towel & place the loaf tin in the oven. I immediately reduce the heat by 25C as I don’t like a very hard, dark crust. This loaf should take approx 20-30 minutes to bake. It is cooked when it is a golden colour & the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

If you cannot wait until tomorrow to taste your super, additive free, homemade loaf, PLEASE wait until it has, at least cooled to room temp. Otherwise you will be left with a squished, misshapen loaf.

For a family of five this loaf will easily disappear over breakfast!! For singles & couples it is also very nice for sandwiches & other recipes requiring bread.

Which reminds me, a friend came for lunch yesterday and we had homemade leek & potato soup (will post recipe soon!) and this bread – I made some earlier, went beautifully with it. Perfect for dunking!!

I have to go now, my eldest, Star, is having 3 girlie friends over tomorrow for a belated, birthday, sleepover.

I need all my strength to prepare the FEAST AND JOIN IN THE FUN!!!!

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Blueberry and Lemon Muffins!

Hi there I hope you are having a good day? I have been baking the scrummiest, yummiest, Blueberry and Lemon Muffins – ooh the smell whilst they were baking was truly mouth watering!

Lemony blueberry muffins - pop the kettle on!!!!!
Lemony blueberry muffins – delish

I’ve been thinking about the names that different foods are given, for example : Buffalo wings, the name totally confuses me. You see Buffalos don’t have wings, well not the ones I’ve ever seen on Telly or in books. Now wait for it – this is gonna come as a massive surprise – they are Chicken Wings. Who’da thunk it?

Also, as far as I’m aware, Moussaka doesn’t have Moose in it or Mousse!! Bell peppers don’t go ding a ling a ding, when shaken. I’m pretty sure Horseradish doesn’t have horse in it. Such is the English language : if you think of any more please post em in the comments box? Thank you kindly.

Well I can guarantee that these Blueberry and Lemon Muffins definitely have both Lemon and Blueberries in them. Now although I call these muffins, they aren’t proper muffins in the strictest sense,  but they’re not cupcakes either! So I settled on muffins, you know that whole thing with the English Language!!  It doesn’t really matter, all you need to know is that they are good – seriously (in a fun way!!!) good!

Little jammy pods throughout the muffin.
Little jammy pods throughout the muffin.

So good in fact that unwrap, place 2 Blueberry and Lemon Muffins in a bowl, whilst still warm and slather with custard, or cream, or both!!! Then dig in!!!!

Recipe : makes 15 Muffins

8 oz Unsalted Butter – room temp

8 oz Caster Sugar

8 oz White Self Raising Flour

4 Whole eggs (pref free range) – room temp

8 oz  Fresh Blueberries, rinsed & dried

1 Unwaxed Lemon, zested & squeezed

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Kosher Salt

Method :

Preheat the oven to 190C (175C fan)

Cream the butter & sugar together, in a bowl ( or bowl of a food mixer, with paddle attachment) until pale and fluffy.

Break the eggs into a separate bowl. Briefly beat together with the Vanilla Extract.

Add half of the flour & half of the beaten egg mixture along with the salt and mix together until just combined – I use a wooden spoon for this part of the process.

Repeat withe the remaining eggs, flour, lemon rind & juice. Mix gently until the ingredients are just combined.

Add the blueberries to the mixture and fold in gently, so as not to break up the blueberries & not overwork the flour ( if the flour is overworked the muffins will be tough, not soft & crumbly).

Place 15 muffin cases into muffin pans and then using a standard ice cream scoop, carefully transfer a scoop full of muffin mixture into each case. If your scoop is a different size to mine (one scoop should fill a muffin case) you may need to adjust the number of cases used & the cooking time.

Cook for 13-15 minutes. The muffins should have a golden colour & spring back from a light press with your forefinger. Little pods of burst jammy blueberries should be visible on the top of the muffins as well.

Leave the muffins to cool in their muffin trays for 10 minutes – this allows them to firm up & easier to remove to finish cooling on a baking rack – if you try to remove them straight away, not only are they very hot, but also very squidgey & easy to mishape whilst handling.

Now arrange nicely & take a photo!!! Email this photo to 5 friends, put the kettle on & see who arrives first!!!

Not only do they look scrummy, they make the house smell AMAZING!!!
Not only do they look scrummy, they make the house smell AMAZING!!!

These muffins are at their best, just warm. Each blueberry, when cooked forms it’s own little pod of jam throughout the muffin. Seriously yummy & very hard to stop at one, two, three….. Remember they’re for sharing!!!

Enjoy! Remind yourself that blueberries are a ‘super food’  and there’s a whole lemon in the recipe, happily kid yourself that the feast before you is good for you – all that Vitamin C!!!!

These are soooo easy (10 mins prep time) to make please give them a try?

A fab recipe to make with children who will wolf them down as quick as they are cool enough to eat. With big jammy, smiling faces & wide eyes begging you to make another batch for them to share at school. Go on – it’s fun!!!!

The perfect bite sized feast, to share!

Sammie x

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Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello there, if you love peanuts, chocolate and cookies this is the recipe for you!!!  I’m in serious trouble – literally – I made the mistake (cos it was on offer – I’m shallow  & I’m good with it!!!) of ordering, Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream. Nuf said! So I made these Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Double Peanut and Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Well maybe not!! But it’s soooo scrummy. I know I mentioned about having more of a savoury tooth, well, peanut butter is savoury. Funny thing is I’m not actually a ‘get a spoon & eat it outta the jar’ crazy fan of Peanut Butter! But when you mix it with something sweet, like in Cookies with a generous sprinkle of Chocolate Chips/Chunks- ooooh – it’s seriously good.  Same goes for Chocolate covered Peanuts and Snickers bars!  I mean, for all my chat about sharing, I confess, I hid the Peanut Butter Cup ice cream in the back of the freezer & whilst I’m in confessional mood, just to doubly make sure, I bought my 3 not so lil ones, their fav ice cream so they wouldn’t take mine.

Such a bad, bad mother – yet I feel no guilt!!!!

Now I’m sad cos the tub is empty. I’m going to be working on a homemade version – but meantime I had a revelation : Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies.

 

A thing of beauty - well to me anyway!!!!!
Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies – where’s my cuppa?

Oh yes people – I did not fail you (or me). Even my daughter Snugs (nickname didn’t want you to think I was completely nuts – she loves her real name Sparkle, Twinkle, Tooth Fairy!!!).

This is one of my favourite made up Cookie recipes in like, EVER!

Recipe : Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies makes 25-35

You will need 2 baking sheets lined with Parchment Paper

160g/5 oz Caster Sugar

225g/8 oz Unsalted Butter – room temperature

1 x Egg Yolk (pref free range) at room temperature

1 tsp Vanilla Extract I use Nielsen-Massey

1/4 tsp Salt I use Maldon

3 tbsp  Smooth Peanut Butter

275g/10 oz Plain White Flour

100g/4 oz Milk Chocolate Chips (or chunks) plus approx 1 oz extra for topping

100g/4 oz Peanut Butter Chips ( I use Reece’s – bought online)

Method :

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4

First of all, place the sugar & butter into a large bowl (or bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment), using either an electric whisk or vigorous effort with a wooden spoon (for those of you who are watching your diet, A : This probably isn’t the recipe for you or B:  You will feel less guilty later on when eating the cookie – that is if you haven’t fallen asleep on the sofa due to over exertion!!!).

This beating (or creaming) lark is actually very important – not quite sure why – not sure I even care!! What I do know is that if you, in the words of MJ himself “Beat it, beat it”,  until it is pale yellow & fluffy, then the finished cookie is much, much better.

Next add the egg, vanilla extract, peanut butter, salt and resume beating, with your preferred method and background music of choice!

Ready to be whipped!
Ready to be whipped!

When all the above ingredients are beautifully mixed, add the flour, peanut chips & chocolate chips/chunks. Using only a spoon (wooden or otherwise), gently combine all the ingredients, slowly stirring them together – if using a stand mixer, mix on slow, with the paddle a attachment until everything is just combined.

I was not paid by Reece's to advertise their product!!
I was not paid by Reece’s to advertise their product!!
If you can't stop yourself eating this straight from the bowl, that fine - there will be fewer cookies to bake though!!! Don't say I didn't warn you!!!!
If you can’t stop yourself eating this straight from the bowl, that fine – there will be fewer cookies to bake though!!! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!!

Using a teaspoon & clean hands remove a large teaspoonful of mixture and roll gently into a ball – approx 1 inch across & place on the lined baking sheet. Continue as above until you have 16 balls, 8 evenly spaced apart on each sheet.

Ready to be squished!!
Ready to be squished!!

Now comes the fun bit ( if you liked making mud pies in the diet when you were younger, you’re gonna lurve this!). Place a few 5-8 choc chips/chunks in your hand, remove a ball from the baking sheet, place it on top of the extra chocolate in you hand & squish down. You want the cookies to be about 1 1/2 – 2″ across. Repeat with remaining balls until you have 16 super chocolately topped cookies, on the baking sheets begging to be cooked.

Put me in the oven NOW!!!
Put me in the oven NOW!!!

Make sure the cookies are evenly spaced apart as they will spread a bit more during cooking.

Place both sheets into the preheated oven. Start to check if they’re done after 10 minutes. DON’T TOUCH! Since these cookies harden up as they cool, once baked they should have a lovely golden brown colour. In my oven these take about 13-15 minutes to cook.

A thing of beauty - well to me anyway!!!!!
Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies. A thing of beauty – well to me anyway!!!!!

Remove the sheets from the oven & allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets completely, or if you are very careful transfer the parchment paper, with the cookies on to a cooling rack – the cookies will still be very soft & you run the risk of breaking a few this way (as I did earlier today!).

With the remaining dough you can either bake the rest of the cookies, rolling into balls & cooking on fresh parchment paper, as before, or you can place the dough onto cling film, form it into a log, wrap tightly & refrigerate for up to 4 days, or double wrap & freeze for up to a month. Defrost the frozen cookie log overnight in the fridge & then with either log, remove from the fridge for 15 minutes before slicing into discs & baking as before.

Cookie dough log, ready for fridge or freezer.
Cookie dough log, ready for fridge or freezer.

Ooh I bet two of the cooked disc shaped Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies with the ice cream sandwiched in the middle would be scrumptious, messy & definitely something to share with friends & family alike!!!

One of my bestest friends in the whole wide world is on holiday at the mo! She’s gonna love me so much more when she tastes one of these!!

Ooh yummy, cuppa coffee and cookies
Ooh yummy, cuppa coffee and cookies

 

If you have enjoyed the recipe for these Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies then you may also like these:

Cherry Bakewell Cookies

FF Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cherry Bakewell Cookies

Chocolate Heart Cookies

FF Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Heart Cookies

Monster Mint Chocolate Cookies

FF Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Monster Mint Chocolate Cookies

 

Just to be clear, I’m not seeking applause, just a smile! Knowing I’ve put a lil smile in someone’s heart makes me feel loved & all soft & squishy inside. Try it – cos it’s a really nice feeling.

Until next time have fun, feast and give thanks for all the opportunities that are about to come your way when you start to share. It’s so much FUN!

Sammie xx

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