A Christmas treat…Gingerbread!

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s the best time of the year, a time when you can bake as much as you want and not feel guilty about it. So this year I decided to make gingerbread and oh my gosh they are so delicious and dangerously easy to keep eating.

Now please don’t laugh at my attempt at decorating. I am fully aware that one of my gingerbread men looks like he has had a bit too much sherry. I have no skills in decorating because whatever I make doesn’t seem to last long enough in my house.

I got this recipe from BBC Good Food and it is definitely one that I will keep. The gingerbread is not too sweet and has the right amount of spice. It is also slightly soft and chewy on the inside (if you don’t over bake it) and crisp on the outside, which I love.

They are great fun to make, especially if you have kids. I am a big kid myself so I was quite content making them for myself. So why not give them a go this Christmas?

Get cosy with a nice hot chocolate topped with marshmallows, perfect for dipping your gingerbread man in. All you need now is a classic Christmas movie, some warm socks and someone else to do the dishes. After all, this is the time to relax and treat yourself. But don’t eat too many!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Thanks for reading and have a lovely holiday!

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Bored of the same lunch? Try something new…

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at my boring sandwich or same old salad for lunch and thought, surely I can eat something else? Especially in the winter, I long for something warm that won’t make me feel sleepy all afternoon.

So today I decided to make leek and potato soup, and it was very satisfying. I didn’t add any cream (even though I really wanted to!) because as a weekday lunch I didn’t want it to be full of calories . All I did was fry a medium sized chopped onion, two garlic cloves, 2 sliced leeks and one small sliced potato in some olive oil. I let them sweat down a little bit and then added some chicken stock. I boiled it until the potato was cooked through and then added a splash of semi-skimmed milk, seasoned with salt and pepper and blitz until smooth. I also added some fresh parsley to give the soup a bit of a lift.

I think soup is a great idea for lunch, you can make a batch on the weekend and then freeze into individual portions for the week and off you go. I’m not a fan of those packet soups because who knows what is in them and they taste a bit watery to me. I like to know that I am getting some real veg in me. And there are so many different combinations you could try, such as sweet potato and carrot soup or tomato and red pepper soup. What flavours do you like?

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Friday Night Curry…Butter Chicken

With all this hype about how butter is now good for us, I couldn’t not cook butter chicken and share it with all you lovely people. Now I don’t know if butter is good for us, bad for us, or simply tormenting us but what I do know is that it’s delicious and seems to make everything taste better. But yes, everything in moderation I can hear you say.

I based this dish from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube video on butter chicken by Maunika but gave it my own spin. It’s such a delicious dish and if you are not a fan of very spicy curries, then you have to give this one a try.

I basically followed this recipe but used Pataks Kashmiri spice paste rather than a powder. You can get this in most of the supermarkets and it gives the curry a great flavour.

I marinated the chicken (for the whole day) in yoghurt, ginger, garlic and chilli paste, tomato puree, Kashmiri paste, lemon, salt, chilli powder turmeric, ground cumin and coriander powder. I then placed the chicken on skewers and cooked it in the oven to get nice and charred.

To make the sauce I fried a chopped onion in some butter, and once browned I then added a chopped tomato, ginger, garlic and chilli paste, tomato puree and the Kashimiri paste. I added different spices such as turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, coriander powder and let this cook into a thick paste. Next I added about 100ml of single cream to give the sauce a creamy taste. I let the sauce down with some boiling water and let it simmer. I preferred to do this than use lots of double cream so I would feel less guilty!

Once the chicken is charred I added it to the sauce alongside all its juices and its done! Add some fresh coriander and serve with naan bread or chapatis and basmati rice. Delicious!

If you are vegetarian you can always make this sauce and use hearty veg such as cauliflower and sweet potato. I like my curries a bit spicy but if you don’t then you don’t have to add any chilli, but go on…spice up your life! (Gosh that was cheesy)

Thanks for reading and check out my website www.jbimagery.co.uk

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Butter chicken 1 wButter chicken 2 w

 

Why is baking so addictive?

I don’t know what it is but I will find any excuse to bake. I will happily admit that I am not the best baker in town but I like to give it a good go. I am guilty of changing recipes based on what I have in the house, which doesn’t always go my way. But I am a firm believer in having a well stocked cupboard and not running to the shops everyday. And I think my purse thanks me for it.

What is it about baking that is so much fun? Is it seeing a bunch of ingredients transform into something warm and delicious? Or is it the feeling of eating something afterwards that you know is slightly naughty? Yes that is probably it. We all have a dark side.

One of my (and my husbands) favourite biscuits are oatmeal and raisin cookies. I’m not sure if this is because the oats and raisins make us both feel like we are being slightly ‘healthy’, but then we are reminded by the butter and sugar in it and slowly come back to reality.

This is a very easy recipe that I got from one of Mary Berry‘s Bake Off books and it was delicious. A perfect combination of ingredients made the biscuit slightly soft and chewy rather than too crunchy.

The recipe is as follows: 125g softened butter, 150g muscovado sugar, 1 large free-range egg, 1 tablespoon of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 100g self-raising flour, 75g raisins, 150g porridge oats.

Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg, and then place the rest of the ingredients in and fold through. It’s as easy as that! I added a pinch of cinnamon too because I love it, but you don’t have to. Place small dollops (technical term there) on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until golden. Bake at 180 degrees C/gas mark 4. Let them cool properly on a rack if you can resist eating them straight away. Enjoy!

Baking is good the for soul…go on give it a try.

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The Comforts of Baking

I have to admit it, I have the baking bug. If everything I wanted to make wasn’t made from butter, cream or sugar, I would most likely bake everyday. But then again if I did this, baking wouldn’t be such a treat.

The nation has gone baking mad, with the rising popularity of The Great British Bake off (something I am obsessed about) and celebrity chefs. There is something very soothing about combining a bunch of ingredients, placing it in the oven and seeing it transform into something comforting and delicious.

Breads, cakes, pastries and more, baking has become an art form and a science. There are an endless amount of recipes out there, all so tempting to try! So why not get in the kitchen one Sunday afternoon and whip up something that will make the whole family happy. No need for any experience, everyone has to start somewhere! The feeling of seeing the finished result of something you made from scratch beats buying a factory made cake any day.

This was a coconut and lime tray bake that I adapted from Mary Berry’s lemon drizzle tray bake, and although I know I am not supposed to alter recipes, it was delicious! A great combination and a delicious afternoon treat. Happy baking!

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Coconut cake

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New York! New York!

I have to apologise for not blogging in so long, I’ve been away! My husband and I went to New York and I think it’s fair to say that we ate our way through the big apple!

What an exciting place! Besides being one of the most amazing cities in the world, I loved it for the vast amount of food on offer. There was every cuisine you could think of and it was all available at any time of the day. We couldn’t help but try a little bit of everything. From Spanish empanadas, Japanese spicy pork buns and Chinese pork fried rice to crispy New York pizza, buffalo wings and cream cheese bagels! Everything was so delicious and we still felt like we had more to try, but our waistline said something else.

Grabbing breakfast on the go was so easy as there was a NY deli on every corner, with a large array of choices. A cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel with a hot cup of coffee was one of the best breakfast’s I’ve had. But then again I could say the same for the pizza, it was so thin and so crispy, I was in heaven! Yet I don’t think I tried a percentage of the food available in NY, it’s a food bloggers paradise. It’s full of exciting new flavours and I hope to go back again one day to try more.

Besides all the food, I can’t help but mention how nice the people were in New York. I am not sure if it was our British accent or our lost faces, but everyone was so kind and helpful. Everyone was smiling and friendly and wouldn’t hesitate to go out of their way and help us. So thank you to the local people of New York!

I’ve attached a mix of photos below both from my camera and mobile phone camera, so apologies for the poor quality of some of them!

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