MTT: Paleo Pancakes

Before I talk about my pancakes today I’m going to beg you for something: nominations have just opened for the MAD awards and you know what? This year I would LOVE to attend the fancy pants dinner in London as a – *crosses fingers* – nominee. And not just because the wine is free. If you like reading my blog I would implore you to take a wander over here to nominate and I’d like to suggest the Most Entertaining Blog category or maybe Best Blog Writer? It’s a good thing I have a big ego.  THANK YOU, and now back to our usual programming…

Paleo Pancakes

Things are still looking pretty Paleo around here. When we were all ill a couple of weeks I let a bit of bread creep back into the diet – tummy bugs want nothing more than marmite on toast, am I right? – but now that’s over the 80/20 rule is back in play. It was amazing to see how rubbish I felt after re-introducing a bit of wheat and I’m still a bit in awe of how this diet has changed me completely beyond expectations; I started eating this way hoping so much fresh fruit and veg would give me a bit of a kick in the morning while Elfie was waking so early – mission accomplished! – but it’s also given me skin that’s clearer than I’ve ever had, a flat tummy and a real sense of well-being. I haven’t felt this healthy in as long as I can remember and have a total sense of contentment. Thanks, fruit and veg!

Paleo pancake ingredients Paleo pancakes Paleo pancakes

Like I’ve said before, my diet and gym-going hasn’t been about losing weight. It’s about re-gaining control of my body, feeling happy with who I am and knowing I’m doing everything I can to be in the best shape I can be in, for me and for the children. Looking back over the last four years it’s actually quite surprising to realise my body has not been my own for a while. It’s performed the miracle of growing and nurturing two little lives, but it’s time to re-discover how to take care of my body and use it to its full potential. I’m all about the self-love these days (not in that way, you perv) and I’m really committed to looking after myself as much as I can, Gwyneth-style.

Paleo pancakes Paleo pancakes

But sometimes when I’m trying to come up with things to eat – especially at breakfast time – I can get stuck. Which is why these Paleo Pancakes are a total lifesaver. They’re my go-to thing to eat if I’m not chugging on a green juice and are really delicious with berries. They even masquerade pretty well as a pudding, and you can add a sprinkling of cinnamon or a drop of vanilla to make things a bit more interesting.

Paleo pancakes and berries Paleo pancakes and berries

5.0 from 1 reviews

Paleo Pancakes
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon of butter
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter over a medium heat.
  2. Mash a banana into a whisked egg and pour into the melted butter.
  3. Cook gently until the egg has solidified, quarter the pancake and flip.
  4. Cook until brown on the other side

 

 

The 12 Days of Ginmas

IMG_0611 I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

One of the best things about my new house is that my new local supermarket is Waitrose. Now, Waitrose is my happy place; brilliant customer service, top-notch cakes in the cafe and it’s full of middle-class people who say sorry when they nearly bump you with your trolley. Also, if you have a Waitrose card you get one cup of tea or coffee a day. I tell you, if you haven’t mooched round Waitrose (childless, obviously) with your free tea or coffee you haven’t lived. Honest. 6846d2c4629f11e3aa6312de58c71adc_8 One of the things I like about the mighty Waitrose is their booze selection. They have loads of it but not just your standard drinks. I could stand there for hours gazing at the array of spirits… but I don’t. Not every day, anyway. Last time I was there I picked up a bottle of Bombay Sapphire (it’s my everyday favourite gin: not wildly expensive but premium enough to be delicious). And because it’s Christmase – we all know everyone likes a tot of gin at Christmas (or Easter, Diwali, Hannukah, or any day with ‘day’ in it, actually) – I thought I’d share with you my favourite gin drinks.

Welcome to the 12 Days of Ginmas!!

A few rules I have with my gin drinking, before we get started: as I’ve said, the gin is Bombay Sapphire but for tonic water-based drinks it HAS to be Fever Tree. There’s no beating it in my opinion. Also, I use 50ml servings because I cant taste it enough if it’s only 25ml. Ahem. But in the interests of moderate drinking I’ve used 25ml measures below.  IMG_0628 1. Gin & Cucumber

My favourite way to drink gin. Terribly refreshing in the summer, drank while you’re sitting by a river lazily watching the world go round.

  • 25ml (or more, no judgement) gin
  • Small chunk of cucumber, chopped
  • 200ml tonic
  • Chop your cucumber and add to the glass: if you like the taste (I do) you can muddle it a little with a spoon.
  • Add a couple of cubes of ice, pour gin and tonic over.
  • Stir and serve.

2. Blood Orange & Pear Gin Cocktail

I love how the blood orange in this makes the cocktail seem ever so Christmassy.

  • 25ml gin
  • Good slug (approx 50ml) of blood orange juice
  • Good slug of pear juice
  • Good slug of soda water
  • Pour gin into glass over a handful of ice.
  • Add juices and soda water to finish. Serve.

IMG_06313. Gin & Tonic with lime

The classic. Easy, peasy, yummy.

  • 25ml gin
  • Half a lime
  • 200ml tonic
  • Chop your half a lime in half again, squeeze one quarter into the glass and use the spent lime to wipe the rim of the glass.
  • Discard and add other quarter to glass with a handful of ice.
  • Pour gin and tonic over and serve. YUM!

IMG_06244. Gin 75

Surely the most sophisticated gin cocktail out there. Every time I drink this at home out of a boring old champagne flute I think I need to get myself some proper saucer champagne glasses. Santa?

  • 25ml gin
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 15ml sugar syrup
  • 40ml champagne (or prosecco)
  • Pour gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup into a shaker.
  • Add ice cubes and shake.
  • Strain into a glass and top with champagne.
  • Add a twist of lemon and serve.

5. The Negroni

I LOVE ordering a Negroni. It makes me feel like I’m in the 1920′s.

A Negroni is equal parts Campari, gin, sweet vermouth on the rocks with fresh orange. I could talk about it for ever here, but Buzzfeed do it better.

IMG_0646 6. Apple, Pear & Gin

If you have loads of time you could make your own but I just buy Copella juices. These are on special offer in Waitrose at the moment…

  • 25ml gin
  • 50ml apple juice
  • 50ml pear juice
  • Tsp honey
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  • Sprig of rosemary to garnish
  • Add juices, honey, gin and ice to a shaker.
  • Shake and pour over ice.
  • Add a sprig of rosemary to garnish.

7. Gin on the rocks with a twist

For the most hardened gin drinker, just serve 50ml gin over ice with a twist of lemon or lime. Yum.

8. Gin & Ginger

Wintery and warming.

  • 25ml gin
  • Juice of quarter of a lime
  • Ginger beer (again, I love Fever Tree)
  • Pour gin over ice and add lime juice.
  • Pour ginger beer over.
  • Garnish with lime wedge and serve.

IMG_06559. Gin & Thyme

I love Thyme in the winter. With chicken, with roast potatoes and now with gin.

  • 25ml gin
  • Splash triple sec
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Tonic water
  • 3-4 thyme sprigs
  • Add gin, sugar syrup, triple sec, thyme and lime juice to a shaker.
  • Shake and strain over ice.
  • Top with tonic water.

10. Cucumber, Celery & Gin sorbet

OK, so not a cocktail, but still pretty epic, right? You can find this recipe over at Martha Stewart (I love you Martha).

11. The Southside

Possibly the most refreshing cocktail you will ever drink.

  • 25ml gin
  • Juice of a quarter of a lemon
  • Sprig of mint
  • Dash of sugar syrup
  • Soda water
  • Add gin, lemon juice, syrup and mint to a shaker.
  • Shake vigorously with ice then strain over a glass.
  • Top up with soda water to taste and garnish with more mint.

IMG_066412. Gin & Elderflower

Are there many things more British than good old Elderflower drinks? I use Elderflower pressé for this (Belvoir, because I am fancy) but you could also use cordial and soda water.

  • 25ml gin
  • Elderflower pressé

 

  • Pour gin over ice and add Elderflower pressé. Serve.

MTT: Wedge Salad

phildunphy

If I get married again I would like it to be to Phil Dunphy. Seriously, the man is a) handsome b) hilarious and c) Phil DunphyI don’t understand why you would need anything else in a man, except perhaps for him not to be a character in a sitcom. Oops.

Anyway, while indulging in my favourite hobby of watching Modern Family re-runs on Netflix a few days ago, Phil starting mentioning the Wedge Salad. And even though I am British and have never even eaten a Wedge Salad I all of a sudden had a massive craving for one.

Wedge Salad Recipe

For the uninitiated, a Wedge Salad is basically a salad made from wedges of iceburg lettuce and cherry tomatoes drizzled in a creamy blue cheese dressing and covered and crispy bacon bits. It’s kind of epic, actually, and if you have never had one you need to get on this salad train, stat. If you use low fat mayo and sour cream you can even pretend to be all saintly, too.

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5.0 from 2 reviews

MTT: Wedge Salad
 
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This serves 2 for lunch (if you’re greedy like me) but can easily be scaled up or down.
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 iceberg lettuce
  • A couple of handful of cherry tomatoes (about 12)
  • 1 shallot
  • 6 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 150g blue cheese
  • Splash of milk
Instructions
  1. Chop the bacon into small pieces and fry until crispy over a high heat.
  2. Quarter the iceberg lettuce, removing the core and the outside leaves. Rinse under water and dry.
  3. Quarter the cherry tomatoes and scatter on a plate with the lettuce.
  4. Crumble the cheese into a bowl and mix with the shallot chopped finely, the sour cream and mayonnaise.
  5. Add a splash of milk to loosen the dressing and season.

 

MTT: Salted Caramel Cookies

Salted Caramel Cookies

So a couple of weeks ago around Shrove Tuesday, I was perusing Instagram as you do, and I kept getting visually slapped in the face by sweet things. Pancakes, cookies, fudge, MORE PANCAKES. Gawd.

I’ve never been a huge dessert fan but since I’ve stepped into the realm of little scary white pills my appetite had kicked up a notch. And because I’ve also kicked up my exercise a notch (or two, lets be honest) I’m totally embracing it. Because really, hunger is miserable. Yay, puddings!!

Salted Caramel Cookies

The need I’ve discovered to inhale a large packet of Haribo each 48 hours isn’t ideal, but that aside I’ve been sticking to larger portions and the odd sweet treat. I’ve put on 5lbs in weight and am kidding myself that’s muscle, plus I will not go near the scales again for a while.

There’s been one craving that I haven’t been able to shake for a while. And that is the craving for cookies: proper, gooey American cookies. I usually find them a bit too teeth achingly sweet and I have always been a cake person. But yet, but yet. My mouth has been watering for a cookie and a cup of tea. (And a pancake, obvs). Damn you, Instagram!

IMG_8955_2

So Instagram let me to investigating plenty of cookie recipes. When I embarked on this quest I didn’t want to go down the double chocolate rout, I fancied a bit of refinement. And this is what I came up with. Ladies and gentleman, I present you with… Salted Caramel Cookies. Oh yeah.

Less calorific than a bag of Haribo. Maybe.

Salted Caramel Cookies

Salted Caramel Cookies

Sidenote: I’d told Elfie all about the fun we were going to have baking cookies and thought it would be such a great rainy afternoon activity for a 2.5 year old; I even put her in her new Polarn O. Pyret cupcake tshirt. However, I learned you should never underestimate the tantrum a toddler will have when you won’t let her stir boiling hot caramel. But she will get her own back when you find her face-down munching on the bowl of cookie dough.

IMG_8949

IMG_8948_2

 

Salted Caramel Cookies
 
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If you are patient, make the salted caramel the night before and leave in the fridge overnight to harden. Then you can chop into pieces before mixing into your cookie dough. I am not patient so I just chuck mine in as a liquid.
Author:
Ingredients
  • The Caramel
  • 75g unsalted butter (best quality)
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 75 ml double cream
  • 3 tsp sea salt (I use Maldon)
  • The Cookies
  • 120g salted butter, melted
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 75g granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 240g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Start by making the caramel. Melt together the butter, sugar and syrup and let simmer and bubble at a medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring all the while.
  2. Add cream and the sea salt and stir again for a couple of minutes. Pour into a shallow tuppaware container and line with greaseproof paper if you’re planning on letting it sit in the fridge overnight.
  3. Now time for the cookie dough! Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  4. Beat together the butter and sugars until just combined. Add the vanilla extract and the egg, and mix well.
  5. Mix together the flour and bicarb of soda, then use a spoon to add to the mixture, stirring until it comes together into a dough. If you are using a wet caramel, add ⅔ of this now now along with a couple of extra tablespoons of flour as it will make it a bit wetter. If you’re using chunks of caramel you don’t need to add any extra flour (the leftover caramel is AMAZING on vanilla ice cream).
  6. Add the chocolate pieces.
  7. Scoop onto a lined baking tray: I use an icecream scoop for this and fill it by ⅔ before depositing on the tray.
  8. Bake for 10-14 minutes. Mine take approximately 12 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt if using, and allow to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes, before moving to a wire rack to cool completely – or scoffing immediately.

 

 

 

Stuff on Toast: Spinach, Mushrooms and Egg

 

After my last Stuff On Toast post my mum sent me a text message saying “OMG Alice, I’ve been making scrambled eggs wrong for the last 40 years!” (though she probably didn’t say OMG as she is part of the generation that thinks LOL means Lots Of Love) So I have decided to dedicate this recipe to her, as she originally taught me about the brilliant combination of spinach, mushrooms and an egg.

She uses those ingredients in a lovely gnocchi dish that she makes regularly, but for those days when boiling up gnocchi seems like one step too far I find it just as nice to have this on a good slice of toast. You can even have it without the toast if you’re feeling, like, super healthy or something. But the last time I did that I had to have four hobnobs two hours later, so it’s not recommended.

 

Spinach, Mushrooms and Egg on Toast
 
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Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 piece of bread, toasted
  • 1 Handful of mushrooms, chopped
  • 20g butter
  • 2 Handfuls of washed spinach
  • 1 egg
  • salt
Instructions
  1. Start by putting your mushrooms on in a saucepan with the butter, melted. Use a bit less butter if you aren’t feeling as sinful as me.
  2. Boil the water ready for your poached egg. I find the Delia Smith method pretty foolproof (egg in frying pan of simmering water, simmer for one minute, turn heat off, let them sit in water for 10 minutes).
  3. When the mushrooms are nearly done throw in the spinach and pop the toast in the toaster.
  4. Butter toast and serve with mushrooms and spinach on top. Put poached egg on the pile of yumminess… season with a touch of salt.

 

More Stuff On Toast:
- Perfect Scrambled Eggs

 

MTT: Mama’s Lasagne

I might be cheating a bit here with the title of this dish. This recipe has nothing to do with an Italian Mama, but rather it was the very first recipe my own Mum taught me about 12 years ago. I have memories of her cooking this at special occasions for my brother and I,  for dinner parties with her friends and she even made it for a faux dinner party I once held for my thirteen year old posse (the dress code was black tie, obviously). It was a staple of my childhood and is a recipe have modified and I come back to time and time again now I’m (barely) a grown-up.

I’m not convinced how authentic this version is. For one, I’m pretty sure the Italians don’t use mature cheddar cheese and I’m sure they use the more traditional combo of carrots and celery. But this is a recipe that I’ve honed over my 12 years of cooking it, from the vegetables and herbs I use to the amount of wine and the time I simmer the ragu. The quantity of cheese sauce has slightly increased over time and I now use less tomatoes. The result is a pasta dish that not only tastes sublime but has layers of flavour thanks to the beef stock, sugar (really!), mushrooms, wine and strong cheese. I would defy anyone not to do a bit of an Italian “MMMMMmmmmmm!” and maybe even that kissy finger pinch thing when they’re eating it.

The quantity below serves 4 hungry grown-ups and is great served with a herby salad and even some (homemade) garlic bread. I often double this otherwise I’m disappointed at the lack of leftovers which taste amazing heated up for lunch the next day. This may be a little more involved and time-consuming than most of my other recipes, but it’s bloody worth it.

In my recipe I’ve used Gourmet Garden basil and garlic, which are a great way to save time when you’re cooking without compromising on taste or flavour. Chopping herbs and garlic are one of my least favourite things to do in the kitchen, so I certainly noticed the difference! I’m entering my lasagne recipe in Gourmet Garden‘s blog off/cook off competition.

 

Mama’s Lasagne
 
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I find I get my best results from this recipe when I par-cook my lasagne sheets in boiling water for around three minutes each. I do this in 2 batches of 3 while the ragu sauce is bubbling away and then lay them out flat ready to assemble. Of course you won’t need to do this if you are using fresh pasta sheets .
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 teaspoons Gourmet Garden garlic
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 pepper (red or orange) chopped into cubes
  • Half punnet chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 100ml red wine
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • Half a beef stock cube
  • 3 teaspoons Gourmet Garden basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g Butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 60g Mature Cheddar Cheese
  • 175ml (approx) whole milk
  • 6 lasagne pasta sheets
Instructions
  1. Dice the onion and sweat in a large pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic, cooking slowly to ensure it doesn’t burn, about 10 minutes.
  2. Whilst the onion is cooking chop your other veg and add to the pan. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Add your mince and break up well. Mix in with veg and stir as it cooks.
  4. Once it’s brown all over add the 100ml of red wine and tomato puree and stir well.
  5. Crumble in the half a stock cube and stir again, then add the tin of chopped tomatoes.
  6. Bring the pan to a slight simmer and cook with a lid off, stirring every 5 minutes. Leave to cook for about 40 minutes before moving on to the cheese sauce.
  7. When the ragu is nearing the end of cooking add the sugar and salt and pepper to taste. I usually add a touch more than 4 teaspoons to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes.
  8. Melt your butter in a small saucepan and when it’s slightly bubbling add your flour; stir well and don’t let it burn. Cook for about 30 minutes before adding a splash of milk to cook the pan down.
  9. Add a handful of cheese and stir well to combine, followed by about half the milk. Wait for the cheese to melt then repeat, until you have a sauce about the consistency of cake batter. You might need a little less of the milk- use your judgement – but make sure you have a small sprinkling of cheddar left over for the top of the lasagne.
  10. When this is done it’s time to assemble! If there’s any liquid left on the top of your ragu sauce skim it off and discard.
  11. Place half of the ragu in a large rectangular dish and press down so it’s nice and level.
  12. Add three quarters of the cheese sauce and place three lasagne sheets on top.
  13. Spoon the remaining ragu over the cheese sauce and place the last three sheets on top of this. Add the last of the cheese sauce to the top of the lasagne and sprinkle with cheddar.
  14. Cook in the oven at 180 degrees C for about 45 minutes, or until the top of the lasagne is golden brown and bubbling. Delicious!