Avocado Ricotta Spread

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. It provides energy to keep you going and gives you a good start to the day. Recently Warburtons contacted me and asked if I would like to get involved in their Big Red Breakfast campaign. Warburtons have teamed up with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to educate the nation on the importance of maintaining a healthy balanced diet. A healthy diet helps maintain a healthy heart. In order to help raise awareness Warburtons are changing the packaging on their wholemeal loaves to support the BHF’s Wear It Beat It campaign. Until the end of February Warburtons will donate 5p from every wholemeal loaf sold to the British Heart Foundation, the aim being to raise £1 million.

avocado and ricottaA healthy diet contains essential starchy carbohydrates like wholemeal bread. Wholemeal bread provides a slow release of energy to keep you going throughout the morning. This means you are less likely to reach for chocolate mid-morning. To help highlight the Big Red Breakfast Campaign Warbutons sent me a lovely hamper and challenged me to come up with recipes using wholemeal bread that can be eaten at breakfast.

Warburtons wholemealThe Big Red Breakfast hamper included some loaves of wholemeal bread and a mix of ingredients which I could use to create recipes. There were bananas, eggs, strawberries, blackberries, ricotta cheese, salsa and avocado pears. To help me serve my breakfast there were some mugs, egg cups, a toast rack, some napkins and a lovely apron. To my son’s delight there were also some balloons which he proceeded to blow up.

Avacodo ricotta spreadI was a bit surprised by the inclusion of salsa, ricotta cheese and avocado but decided to make an avocado ricotta spread to top some toast. A lot of people prefer something savoury for breakfast and on the continent cold meats and cheese are often served for breakfast. I thought it might make a pleasant change. The avocado  ricotta spread was really quick and easy to make and when topped with the salsa made a really nice snack. A big mug of tea made the perfect accompaniment.

Avocado ricotta spreadI made the spread  by scoping an avocado into a bowl and mashing it up. I then added a pot of ricotta cheese and stirred them together until they were combined. I also added some black pepper to jazz it up a bit. All I needed to do then was prepare the Warburtons wholemeal toast spread the avocado and ricotta and salsa on top. The spread was lovely for breakfast and it would also make a nice filling for a lunchtime sandwich with a bit of ham and tomato. For other breakfast ideas why not try Brunch Scrambled Eggs or Melon Breakfast Sundaes.

Warburtons are encouraging us to hold a Big Red Breakfast with family, friends and colleagues to help raise money for the British Heart Foundation.  If you visit the Warburtons facebook page you will get ideas for recipes as well as a chance to win a Warburtons Red Breakfast kit of your own. Warburtons wholemeal loaf is available in 400g  (RRP 96p)and 800g (RRP£1.48)

Avocado Ricotta Spread

Avocado Ricotta Spread
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Ingredients
  1. 1 avocado
  2. 1 355g tub ricotta cheese
  3. black pepper
Instructions
  1. Peel and remove the stone from the avocado.
  2. Mash the avocado in a bowl with the ricotta cheese
  3. Season with black pepper
Notes
  1. Serve as a dip or on toast with salsa
Dragons and Fairy Dust http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/
 I was sent a hamper to enable me to create recipes

 

Hidden Newcastle: The Vampire Rabbit

I have lived in Newcastle Upon Tyne for many years, but the city still has many surprises. Recently I heard rumours that there was a  vampire rabbit in the centre of the city. In all my years of living here I had never encountered this mysterious beast. We bravely decided to go in search of it. The vampire rabbit lurks behind St Nicolas Cathedral. It is reached by going down a small partly cobbled street and there behind the cathedral  you will find it. Perched atop an ornate doorway, ready to hop down on unsuspecting passers-by. It’s fangs and claws drip with blood as it sits there menacingly. It’s eyes appear to follow you as you move about. It sits staring balefully at the cathedral.

Vampire rabbitThe Cathedral Buildings, named because they are behind the cathedral, were built by architects, Oliver and Leeson in 1901 who were responsible for many buildings in Newcastle. The building itself seems nondescript until your eyes are caught by the ornate doorway and cast iron drainpipes. On looking up you have to look at the vampire rabbit and wonder why it is there. It shows what can be revealed if you look up in a city. I  have often passed and never noticed the rabbit sitting there waiting to pounce.

vampire rabbitThere are many theories as to why the vampire rabbit sits there, but the truth is that no one really knows. One theory is that William Wood (the architect) created it as a reference to Sir George Hare Phipson who was his friend as well as being a local doctor and Freemason. It is not clear if it was meant to be a tribute or an insult. Wood was also responsible for founding Wood, University of Durham Masonic lodge so maybe the rabbit has some significance to Freemasons.

vampire rabbitThe rabbit may also be a symbol of the coming of Spring and over the years has been made to look more menacing by the addition of the red to it’s claws and fangs. We may never know its history. It still makes an interesting talking point and something to speculate about.

vampire rabbitIt also makes you wonder what other oddities the city is hiding and makes you want to go and seek them out. Whilst I have discovered many places of interest in the city, most of them are well known like the Newcastle Quayside and the Great North Museum. It is fascinating to discover something that has a mystery behind it.

Do you have any oddities like this in your city? I would love to know.

Drama at the opera

When I made my début at the opera I fell flat on my face. As a child we were exposed to culture. My parents took me to many classical concerts, operas and plays, often with great protest. We had to sit still for what seemed like forever whilst we watched whatever orchestra or singer was on stage. I did discover a love of classical music as well as the art of people watching. It was a great distraction looking at the faces of the orchestra as they played.

As well as watching concerts we also got involved as performers in operas and plays. We had to attend rehearsals after school, often sitting for hours until it was our turn to go on. Homework was done in the wings and colouring sheets given to us as a distraction. Our performance was polished until we were perfect with rehearsals and dress rehearsals. Finally it was opening night and we waited in the wings, excitement building as we peeped out at the audience.

My début was at the opera, I can no longer recall which opera. It was a woodland scene. I was dressed as a nymph. I made my entrance with other girls, carrying flowers descending to dance in a circle round a faun who was singing his heart out. We had to descend a flight of stairs in the wings and proceed down a ramp to the stage below. I was poised to follow the other girls on stage when my foot got caught under one of the steps and I tripped, dramatically flying out onto the stage. I landed flat on my face. I jumped up quickly, hoping no one had noticed. I still remember that moment all these years later.

Trees

It did not put me off, I was a princess in the King and I not long after and this went rather more smoothly. I still have a love for opera and classical music to this day. Whilst I am normally found listening to rock music, there is something relaxing about attending a performance at the theatre. Whether you are being amused by Gilbert and Sullivan, singing quietly along to cats or being swept up in the drama of La Traviata performed by the English National Opera, you are swept into another world for a few hours.

La-traviata

Picture courtesy of ENO

Even if the words are not in English, the performers portray the depth of feeling in the music and their actions. The orchestra bringing the music to life in front of your eyes. You take your seat, listening to the orchestra tuning up and a sense of expectation builds up. The lights dim and the curtain opens and you are swept away into the drama happening on stage. Intermission is a chance for a breath of air and refreshments before going back to your seat to entranced by the play again. It is a chance to escape and enjoy something new.

Do you enjoy plays and opera? What was the last thing you saw at the theatre?

This post was commissioned by the ENO but the opinions are mine.

Melon Breakfast Sundaes

When I told my son he was having Sundaes for breakfast he got rather excited. I was not serving him ice cream for breakfast but rather a healthier version of a sundae made with fruit and yoghurt. The key was serving the breakfast in a pretty sundae dish. This made it look rather spectacular and made him think he was getting something special.

Breakfast sundaesFor the base of breakfast sundae I chose to use melon. I picked out a cantaloupe, the orange flesh is succulent and sweet. I have lovely memories of my mum using cantaloupes for desserts on our holidays in France. She used to cut them in half and pour port into the inside. The half a melon made a perfect bowl and the port blended perfectly with the melon. As kids we did not get much port, but the fact we were allowed any made us feel grown up. It was a quick and easy dessert when you are self catering and it is easy to buy a melon when you have to go into shops and use a foreign language. It is something you can just pick up. Now cantaloupes are common place in stores here but at that time they were not which made the dessert seem more exotic.

Breakfast sundaeThe melon was cubed and added to the sundae dishes. I then poured over some vanilla yoghurt. I chose vanilla as my son is not that keen on natural or Greek yoghurt, both of which could be used instead.  I finished off by topping the breakfast with Jordans Lighter Granola, Strawberry and Blueberry.

Breakfast SundaeThe granola added some crunch and some extra fruit into the mix which topped off the sundae perfectly. My son loved Jordans Lighter Granola, so much so that I found him pouring a bowl of it for himself later on that evening. I am quite happy for him to eat it as it is 30% lower in fat. The fat has been reduced by the addition of barley into the mix and everything in it is natural. I love the little pieces of freeze dried strawberry and blueberry. They are like concentrated bits of fruit in the cereal.

Breakfast sundaeThe breakfast sundae was a resounding success, quick and easy to make and very tasty. It has the added benefit of being healthy whilst looking rather special. It would be really easy to vary this using different types of fruit and yoghurt flavours to make a different breakfast every day. For a hot breakfast why not try bacon and egg cups, egg cooked in cups of bacon which my husband loved.

Melon Breakfast Sundae

Melon Breakfast Sundae
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cantaloupe melon
  2. 1 large tub vanilla yoghurt
  3. Granola for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Deseed and peel the melon and cut into pieces.
  2. Arrange the melon pieces in a sundae glass
  3. Pour over the vanilla yoghurt
  4. Top with granola
Dragons and Fairy Dust http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/
Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Bacon and Egg Cups

This week is National Breakfast week. After creating my brunch Scrambled Eggs I decided it was time to experiment and create something a little bit different. One of my favourite breakfasts is bacon and egg, there is something a little bit naughty about starting the day with bacon and egg and a cup of tea. The bacon needs to be crispy and the egg runny so the yolk mixes with the bacon. It sets you up for the day and leaves you feeling full. I wondered if it would be possible to create a bacon and egg cup, a bite size snack that enables you to eat your bacon and egg in one bite.

Bacon and egg cups

I believe I have created the ultimate breakfast idea. The eggs are baked in a cup of bacon and the result is a totally delicious mouthful. They look as if you have made an effort but in reality they are really easy to make.

Bacon and egg cups
I also learnt something new, you can bake bacon. The clue should really be in the name, bacon, but I never thought of baking it before. I normally just grill it or fry it. Baking it is a revelation, the bacon turns out crispy and tastes nicer. If you put down silver foil on the baking sheet there is much less washing up. Baking the bacon is simple, place the bacon on a baking sheet and put into a cold oven. Set the oven to 200C, gas mark 6 and leave it for fifteen to twenty minutes. When it looks crispy enough remove it. Baked bacon can also be stored in the fridge and warmed up in the microwave later, ideal if you fancy a bacon sandwich for lunch.

Bacon and egg cupsOnce you have baked your bacon it is easy to turn them into bacon and egg cups. First you need to grease a muffin tin. Line each of the muffin holes with bacon, trying not to leave gaps. It is fine to layer the bacon in slices making a cup shape. In a bowl mix together four eggs, a tablespoon full of milk and two tablespoons full of cheese and pour into the bacon cup. Place back in the oven for ten to fifteen minutes until the egg has set.  If you want to add some variety you could add other ingredients like chopped onion, mushrooms, red pepper or tomato. I just added a sprinkle of black pepper.

Bacon egg cupsThen for the fun part, eating them.  I served them with a glass of V8 vegetable juice original which contains 8 vegetables in one drink and tastes delicious. This one glass contains a mix of tomato, carrot, celery, beetroot, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach providing one of my portions of fruit and vegetables for the day. There are no artificial colours or flavours, only contains 26 calories and perfectly complemented the bacon and egg cups. It is hard to believe that V8 uses the same recipe that it did when it was invented in Illanois in 1933. I remember my dad drinking it when I was a child. I used to love it then and still love it today.

Bacon and egg cupsBacon and Egg Cups

 

Bacon and Egg Cups
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Ingredients
  1. 1 packet of bacon
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 1 tbsp milk
  4. 2 tbsp grated cheese
Instructions
  1. Trim the fat off the bacon and lay on silver foil on a baking tray.
  2. Place the baking tray in the oven and heat to 200C, Gas Mark 6
  3. Leave for 15 - 20 minutes until the bacon looks crisp
  4. Grease a muffin case with butter
  5. Layer the bacon round each muffin case to form a cup shape. Try to fill in the gaps.
  6. Mix together the eggs, milk and cheese.
  7. Pour the mixture into each of the bacon cups.
  8. Place in the oven for ten or fifteen minutes until the egg has set
Notes
  1. If wanted you can add extras like chopped onion, red pepper, mushrooms or tomatoes to suit your taste
Dragons and Fairy Dust http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/

I was really pleased at how easy this recipe was to make and the whole family really enjoyed it. I think it might become a regular breakfast feature on Sundays.

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