Quick Lunch: My Loaded Potato Skin Recipe

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Looking after a baby is hard work. The main issue I find is finding the time to eat. So I’ve had to find foods which are quick and easy to prepare, and can be eaten one-handed! My best food for this so far has been loaded potato skins. Basically jacket potatoes, twice-cooked with a cheese and chive filling… You can make up a batch in advance, freeze them, then chuck in the oven for 20mins when you want them again and hey presto! Easy one-handed and tasty meals!

This recipe should make between 20-30 skins depending on how many potatoes you get in your bag!

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Ingredients:

2.5KG of Baking Potatoes
Soured Cream
Monterey Jack Cheese
Fresh Chives
Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat your oven to 160c (fan-assisted)skins7

Partially-cook your potatoes in the microwave, I usually do 10mins for 3 medium-sized potatoes – Ensure you prick them with a knife first so that they don’t explode!

Once done, coat all of the potatoes in a thin layer of oil (either coconut or olive), and place directly on the oven shelf in the center of the oven. I find it easier to take out the shelf and load my potatoes on, then put it back once they are all in place!skins5

Cook for approximately 1hr, or until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside – too soft and they will fall apart when emptying the center

Once cooked, place the potatoes on a rack, and leave to cool

Once your potatoes have completely cooled, cut them in half length-ways, and using askins4 spoon, scoop out the center of the potato leaving a
5mm layer in the skin (to hold it in place!)

Empty your soured cream and monterey jack cheese into a large mixing bowl. Chop your
chives into small pieces, approx 3-4mm long and add these to the bowl. Add some salt & pepper to your taste, and mix all together with a wooden spoon until the soured cream is well and truly blended in

Add the scooped potato into your mixing bowl, and using a potato masher, mash it all skins3up until it is nicely blended. You could use a blender for this, but I personally prefer the crunchy texture you get by doing it by hand… You don’t need it to be smooth in consistency – just well mixed so that all of the potato is coated in the cream & cheese mixture

Holding a skin in one-hand, use your spoon to push the potato mixture back into the skin, and smooth it over with the back of the spoon. Don’t worry about it being flat, slightly more in there is better! Just make sure the mixture is “packed” into the skin well, otherwise it will fall out when movingskins2

Once complete, you can either re-cook to eat, or freeze… To freeze, first you need to flash-freeze them, so put them in the freezer on a tray, without touching each other for about 30 60mins until they are almost frozen. This will prevent the skins from sticking together when freezing. Once this process has completed, you can bag them up and freeze fully

To re-cook, place them in a preheated oven at 170c for approx 20-30mins depending on how crispy you like them 🙂

These are a firm favourite snack/lunch in my household – Hopefully they will be the same for you!

Mini Creme Egg Cheesecakes

Today I decided I wanted to make one of my cheesecakes, but I didn’t fancy my usual Mars themed recipe, so had to have a think about what else I could try… A few ideas were batted about until I decided on Creme Eggs, seeing as we’re near Easter and all, and I may have just a slight addition to them atm! 😉

I started out with my usual cheesecake recipe (see my Mars cheesecake entry – http://wp.me/p3COiP-1G) but excluded the caramel. I also substituted the normal hobnobs for chocolate ones to give it a tad more chocolate for Easter!

I separated the batch into 16 individual muffin cases and made each cheesecake individually. Muffin-sized cases are better as their wider and generally slightly thicker… You’ll also want to use a muffin tin to hold the cases whilst setting or else the weight of the mixture will collapse the sides of the cases… Put the biscuit in first, flatten with your fingers or the end of a spoon, and place them in the fridge for about 10mins, then put the mixture on top and place back in the fridge for a further 10mins… After this, I took them back out and placed a small dollop of melted chocolate into the middle of each cake. Then very carefully, I placed the two halves of the mini creme eggs (cut them along the seal line with a sharp chefs knife) on top of the chocolate, giving them a little ‘push’ into the mixture to make it look as if the chocolate had melted off the eggs.

These then went back into the fridge for about 1-2hrs before being ready to serve!

All in all about 30-40mins prep and a couple of hours in the fridge = Easy (and fun) Easter desert!

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Easy Peasy Homemade Frappuccino!

In light of this hot weather recently, I decided to treat myself to one of my favourite “naughty-but-nice” things in life… A Frappuccino! My all-time favourite is the Mocha Cookie Crumble with Chocolate Cream from Starbucks! I could, and was having one of these every day for breakfast, until I realised I needed to stop both spending the money, and consuming so much sugar every day!!! So, I decided to compensate by making my own version, and as it came out so nice, I thought I’d share! 🙂

This mix below will make a large glass worth, if you want to make about a pint glass worth, use about 320ml milk instead, and add a little more chocolate/coffee to taste…

Ingredients:

– 250ml Milk (I personally use skimmed, but my husband uses whole for his, and they both come out fine!)
– 2 tbl spoons Chocolate Nesquik
– 1-2 tsp Flavoured Coffee (I use Whittards Chocolate Truffle or Vanilla flavours) – You can use more or less coffee to your taste!
– Squirty Cream (I use Anchor Light)
– 5 Ice Cubes
– Optional: 1-2 tbl spoons caramel syrup (Just the normal type you use for ice-cream is fine)

Method:

– Pour the Milk, Nesquik, Coffee and Ice Cubes into a blender (and syrup if your using any)
– Blend together for approximately 30seconds (anymore and it will start to warm up!)
– Pour into a large glass, and top with squirty cream… Sprinkle a light dusting of Nesquik on top, and Hey Presto! All done!
– Serve immediately! 🙂

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Mum’s 50th Birthday Cake…

So it’s coming up to my Mum’s birthday again, and whilst trying to think up ideas of what to do, I started reminiscing about her birthday last year… Last year was my Mother’s 50th, and so rather than her usual “BBQ in the garden” style get-together she has had every year since I don’t know when, she decided so throw a proper party inviting everyone and his uncle, hall-hire and all! So in honour of this special occasion, my sister’s and I decided to make her a special birthday cake to go along with it…

I’m quite creative when I want to be, so decided to go all out, and design and make a themed cake…Amongst other things, my Mum is a qualified kayak instructor, and so when trying to come up ideas for a theme, this one came up trumps.

Ingredients:

– Two Large Round Sponge Cakes (I used basic vanilla sponge with jam and buttercream filling)
– Ready-to-Roll Royal Coloured Icing (various colours to suit)
– Smarties
– Buttercream Icing
– Food Colouring
– Plain Flour for Rolling the Icing

Method:

– First off, using a sharp knife, cut one of the sponge cakes straight across into a 70:30 sized split
– Make up a batch of plain or vanilla buttercream icing
– Spread a small amount of the buttercream icing onto one side of the still whole cake (to cover about 60%), then gently place the larger part of two pieces of cake you cut earlier onto the icing with the curved side being in the middle of the base cake. Position the top piece so that it is as “flush” to the back of the base cake as you can. You’ll notice that your top cake will overlap slightly on the sides, but this is fine
– Follow the same steps for the smaller piece of your cut cake, and you should finish with a 3-tier cake, which looks like it has “steps” going up the front of it
– Using a sharp knife, very carefully trim the over-hanging edges of your cut pieces, so that the cake is flush all the way around (i.e. still rounded). You should also have a very small amount of your base cake sticking out at the back which you could cut away too
– Your cake is now ready to decorate! So, after choosing your icing which will be your first and base layer all over, start by gently kneading the icing between your fingers to soften it up. Then, using a rolling pin, roll out the icing onto a lightly floured surface; do this until your icing is a flexible and thin, even sheet
– Once you have done this, lightly cover your cake with the buttercream to form a sticking “glue-like” surface, and then very gently, lay the coloured icing over your cake. You may need to use a couple of sheets of icing, depending on how big your cake is, if so, use the crevices of the “steps” to hide the creases in the cake
– Using your fingers, gently press the icing into the cake so that it sticks and sets into the appropriate crevices to show off the design of your cake
– If you are adding a second colour, like my water feature for instance, it will be easier to place the sheets in smaller layers, as you can blend the edges together with the colours
– Once completed, you should have a stepping-stone shaped cake with coloured icing… You’ll now want to decorate it!
– I started by splitting a small amount of my buttercream into two pots, and adding some food colouring to them to create green and blue buttercream. I then used a combination of my fingers, and a pastry brush to dip into the buttercream, and dab onto the cake. This enabled me to create the effect of having patches of green grass on my hills, and also the effect of running water to my waterfall
– To complete the waterfall, before my buttercream set, I sprinkled both silver and light blue “shimmer sugar” over parts of the water feature, and dabbed it into the buttercream with my fingers so that it would set in place
– Using some dark brown royal icing, I created a small “mud-patch” to place near the bottom of the waterfall, and using the shimmer sugar and a little of both coloured buttercreams, I blended this into both the grass and water coloured icing so that it didn’t look too blocky
– Using a small sharp knife, I created tiny flowers out of rolled pink and yellow icing, and boulders by rolling brown and dark yellow coloured icing into ball between my palms, and then squaring them out slightly before setting them into the cake with buttercream
– In between the boulders, I also threw in a few green and brown smarties to mix up the rock/boulder shapes, and to create the effect of mounds in the grass… You could also use the off-cuts of cake to do this if you like…
– Last but not least, the kayaker! This little bugger took me lots of time and patience of rolling icing and shaping to create a kayak, and then a little person separately to place inside the kayak… I then used a toothpick to hold the oar in place and stop it from flopping in the heat, and set the pieces together using buttercream

I’d like to have another go at creating a themed cake, so will have to have a think of what to do and when, but for now, I didn’t think this was a bad first attempt!! 🙂

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Spicy Noodle Omelette

Ok, another recipe for you this evening!

This is a bit of an odd one, but so far everyone I’ve made it for despite their initial reservations about it, has absolutely loved it, so hope you do too! 🙂

This should make enough for 4 people…

Ingredients:

For the Omelette –

8 medium eggs
20ml milk (the full-fat or semi-skimmed milks work better)
1tbl spoon dried chili flakes (or more if you like your food spicy!)
1tbl spoon cornflour

Noodles –

2 packets singapore noodles (I use Amoy)
1 red pepper
250g chestnut mushrooms
75g baby corn
75g mange tout

Method:

– First, chop up your vegetables ini thin pieces and then shallow-fry your in a deep pan for approximately 7-10 minutes (until cooked) using a little water as needed instead of oil

– Whilst this is cooking, heat up a medium frying pan with some oil, and in a mixing bowl, gently whisk your eggs, milk and chili flakes together until blended. Sift the cornflour into your mixture and mix together

– When the oil is hot, pour 1/4 of your mixture into the pan, keeping the heat between medium-high, and as the omelette is cooking, start to move some of the mixture to the middle of the pan, so that the center of the omelette is thicker, and the outer edge is thinner. Be careful not to make the outer circle too thin, but this method should help hold the omelette together better, and also will hold the finish product better. Once the omelette is cooked on the underside, flip it over (carefully!) to cook the other side. Do this for all four omelettes – you can keep the cooked omelettes in the oven at a low heat to stop them getting cold in between)

– Once the veg is almost cooked, add the noodles, and mix together well. These usually take about 5minutes to warm up, and then their done

– Laying the omelette flat in the middle of a plate, plate 1/4 of your veg noodle mix across one half of the omelette, then fold over to form a wrap, or calzone-style shape

– And your done! I usually serve mine with some wild rocket, or a light salad, but that’s upto you! Enjoy!

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Wild Mushroom Lasagne

I haven’t posted for a bit due to work commitments and other stuff, so thought I’d start by adding another recipe to my blog…

So today’s recipe is a Wild Mushroom Lasagne. Unfortunately I cheated on the sauce and bought Dolmio’s, but that’s only because I find it takes less time to use a pre-made sauce!

Pics below of the ingredients inside, and the finished product!

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So here we go…

Ingredients:

100g Chestnut Mushrooms
200g Supersweet Mixed Peppers (I used Chiquino Peppers)
150g Exotic Mushrooms (I used a mix of Oyster, Shitake and Porchino for the colours)
500g Jar of Dolmio Light “White” Sauce for Lasagne
500g Jar of Dolmio Light “Red” Sauce for Lasagne
50g Mature Cheddar Cheese
1x Pack of Lasagne Sheets
[you will also need a large rectangular oven dish to bake it in – I use an Ikea glass dish, as it’s easier to see the food cooking inside!)

Optional – 1X 36g Schwartz Lasagne Mix
Paprika to decorate

This recipe should make about 6 decent-sized servings.

Method:

– Pre-heat the oven to about 180*C (fan-assisted)
– Chop up all of the mushrooms into thin slices, and place into a deep frying pan with about ½ cm of water in the pan
– Put a lid on the pan and leave on medium heat, stirring carefully and occasionally until softened. add a little more water if the mushrooms begin to fry – boiling them retains the “softer” texture and flavour
– Whilst the mushrooms are cooking, first grate the cheese and put to one side, then empty the jar of red sauce into a large mixing bowl, and if you’re using it, add the sachet of lasagne seasoning and mix together
– Once the mushrooms are cooked, drain off any remaining liquid (you could pour this into the empty red sauce jar to get out any remaining sauce!), and mix in with the sauce mixture
– Pour a 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom of your oven-dish, and spread out with the back of your spoon until flat and even
– Gently lay your lasagne sheets across the top of the mixture, breaking to side if required. if you are breaking them to fit, try to only break them in one direction, so that you once cooked, you can cut along the lines evenly and it won’t fall apart!
– Once your layer of sheets are down, pour about a ½-1 cm layer of white sauce over the top and spread evenly
– Repeat the last three steps again, you should now have used all of your mushroom mixture, so on the third and final layer, rather than putting mushrooms on top of your white sauce, sprinkle the grated cheese all over
– If you like, you can sprinkle a dusting of paprika over the top for flavour and decoration
– Place in the middle of the oven for approximately 30-40minutes, until the cheese is a light golden brown. You can check if its cooked through by placing a knife through the middle, and if you meet no resistance from the pasta sheets, then it’s cooked
– Once cooked, remove from oven, and serve immediately
– Once completely cooled, this dish can also be frozen. I usually make a large tray of it, and cut it up once cooled and freeze for another time!Obviously you can swap and change the ingredients to suit what you like, but this is a good vegetable alternative dish if you fancy a change!

Mars Cheesecake Recipe

My recipe for making a Mars-Bar Themed Cheesecake!

This was a challenge set by my work, as I am a HUGE fan of cheesecake, and wanted to trial making some different flavours… A few ideas went into a hat, and this was the creation I was tasked to create!

This makes a rather large sized cake, a good 8-10ish decent-sized servings depending on the size of the tin! 🙂

Ingredients:

* 17 Oaty biscuits (I used Hobnobs)
* 120g Unsalted Butter, plus an additional 5-10g for greasing the tin (I used Stork)
* 200g Tub of Plain Philadelphia Cream Cheese (I usually use the “Light” variant, but you can use the full fat for a richer taste if you prefer)
* 185ml Double cream
* 100g Icing Sugar
* 220g Milk Chocolate (I usually use Dairy Milk or decent quality cooking chocolate)
* 400g Dulce de Leche Caramel (I used the 397g tub of Carnation Caramel)

Method:

– Grease a large [approx 9″] round baking tin (I swear by the Tefal springform tins!)
– Crush the Hobnobs in a bowl with the end of a rolling pin until they are of a breadcrumbs consistency
– Melt the butter in the microwave for (approx 30 seconds in a standard 800W microwave), then add the crushed hobnobs to the butter bowl and mix well – it should have a “sticky” texture, but not be too crumbly or equally not be too wet
– Put all of the biscuit mixture into your tin, and using the back of a table-spoon, flatten the biscuit down until it is flat and even. then place the mixture into the fridge for about 10 minutes
– After 10 minutes, take out the mixture, and put a 1cm layer of the caramel over the base, again using your spoon to flatten it. Place the tin back in the fridge for a further 20-30 minutes
– Place your Philadelphia and Icing Sugar together in a mixing bowl, and mix by hand with a wooden spoon
– Place the Double Cream into a separate mixing bowl, and using an electric whisk, whisk the cream until it peaks. Be very careful not to over do it, or it will start to churn!
– In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate either in the microwave or on the hob, (approx 30 seconds in the microwave), ensuring to check and stir it so it doesn’t burn
– Using your wooden spoon, stir the melted chocolate into the whipped cream mixture and then add this to Philadelphia and Icing bowl. Whisk until blended and smooth
– Using your spoon, “gently” place the Philadelphia mix on top of your biscuit/caramel base, and smooth over. To flatten, use the back of your table spoon, and starting from the outside edge, slowly and gently trail the spoon across or in a circle gradually moving to the middle, then you can lift the spoon away leaving a very small peak
– Place the tin back into the fridge, and leave for between 1-2hrs. You’ll know it’s set when the mixture feels firm to the touch, and doesn’t sink (I usually make this the night before)
– Remove your cheesecake accordingly depending on your tin style, and serve immediately.

These are always a huge hit when I make them, and I have various other “flavours” where I change the recipe slightly, I’ll try and get some more up as I get a chance!

I have also made these as single mini cheesecakes by making the mixture in muffin cases rather than a tin. This works best if you can put the cases into a muffin-pan to stop them from stretching whilst setting.

Note, this cake is very high in calories! I do usually use the lighter version of the Philadelphia to save on the calories a bit, but it obviously is still high due to the chocolate, caramel and sugar content.

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