It seems that Spring is definitely here. The days have been sunny and I have finally managed to get into the garden and remove a centuries worth of weeds and plant some seeds. I decided to make some biscuits in honour of the sunshine and had the idea of making colourful rainbow biscuits. The idea was to use food colouring to make biscuit dough in different colours then layer the dough in rainbow colours before cutting and baking. To remember the colours in the rainbow I always have to remember the phrase Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain which reminds me they are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. I skipped the Indigo when making the biscuits as I couldn’t find a light blue food colour, but I had all the other colours. Whilst baking I found myself singing “I can sing a rainbow” much to my sons disgust.
The idea was good but I used natural food colouring and the colours did not turn out as bright as I wanted. You could see the colour in the dough before baking but after cooking it went rather pale and pastel. Next time I will be more heavy handed with the food colouring and make sure the dough is really bright before baking. It was nothing a dip in melted chocolate and some rainbow sprinkles couldn’t sort out.
Whilst not as colourful as I wanted I was pleased with the way the seperate layers in the biscuit worked and you could definitely see that there should be stripes. These are more like rainbows as the rain stops and it is fading gently away. The biscuits were much appreciated though and did not last very long.
- 200g (7oz) butter
- 150g (6oz) caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 400g (14oz) plain flour
- Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple food colouring
- 100g milk chocolate
- Hundreds and thousands
- Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix well.
- Gradually add the flour and mix together to from a dough.
- Divide the dough into six equal parts and add a different food colour to each.
- Wrap each bit of dough in clingfilm and leave in the oven for 30 minutes to chill.
- Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas Mark4
- Take one of the chunks of dough and roll into a strip between two sheets of baking paper. It should be about 5mm thick
- Repeat this with the other bits of dough stacking the strips up in the correct colour order until you have a recectangle made of the stack of colours.
- Cut into strips to make even sized biscuits.
- Bake in the oven on a baking sheet with baking parchment on for 15-20 minutes.
- Leave to cool.
- When cooled melt the chocolate in a bowl over bowling water. Dip each biscuit into the chocolate and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands.
- Leave to set.
Dragons and Fairy Dust http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/
Do you love watching Britain’s Got Talent on TV? Have you always wanted to take part but never got round to applying? Have you got a special talent that you have always wanted to show off? Well now is your chance. Maltesters have partnered with Britain’s Got Talent and are asking the nation to let their lighter side out. All you need to do is to take a video of your Living Room Talent and upload it to www.facebook.com/Maltesers. The three best entries will win tickets to the Ultimate House Party in London on 7 June. Each winner can invite 20 of their friends to the Party where they will be treated to performances by finalists from the 2013 season of Britain’s Got Talent. If you haven’t got a talent you can also win tickets by entering the code on special promotional packs.
What is your talent? Do you find that you are the centre of attention entertaining your friends on a night in? Maybe you are great at telling jokes, can do magic tricks or are a wonderful impressionist.I have a hidden talent because I can pick things up with my toes. I don’t think that is going to entertain people very much though so will have to have a think about what else I can do.
Maltesers carried out some research and found that the nation’s capital has come out on top as the ‘most talented’ region. Almost a quarter of those living in London (24%) possess a Living Room Talent – a higher proportion than anywhere else in the country. The people of Yorkshire (21%) are hot on London’s heels in second place. In Scotland magic tricks are the most popular talent with 25% people surveyed claiming this as their talent, in Wales impressions and dancing took top spot. In the North over two in ten Yorkshire residents claim they are comedians and are great at telling jokes. Joke telling is the most popular living room talent with 14% admiitting to this and it is closely followed by magic tricks (13%) and impressions (13%)
If you have a living room talent why not find out more. The terms and conditions and the entry form for promoational pack codes are at www.maltesers.co.uk or visit to www.facebook.com/Maltesers to submit your Living Room Talent entry before 18 May. The competition is open to those over the age of 18 years but you are welcome to involve family and friends in your entry who are aged 12 -17 providing they have parent/guardian permission to do so.
Disclosure: I was sent some maltesers as thanks for telling you about this competiton. I may or may not enter depending if I find an entertaining talent.
When I was little I always remember going on adventures at the weekend with my family. We were at school all week and the weekend was a chance for us to spend time together. We used to go on long drives, packing a picnic and exploring the wilds. I remember long walks in Tolemore forest park and driving up the Ards penisula to explore the Giant’s Causeway or to look for fossils at Garren Point. Now I have a family of my own the tradition continues. We work hard all week but like to pack as many adventures into the weekend as we can. When Uggs Australia asked what we would do for a classic day out, the answer was simple. We would pack our sandwiches and go on an adventure.
For an adventure you need to get away from it all. We love to get out into the wilds of Northumberland and all it has to offer. From castles, to a beautiful coastline, to hills with Hadrian’s wall sweeping across them, it has it all. This time my adventure would be slightly different. One of the things I would love to see is the sky over Kielder Water at night. The forest park has just been designated a dark sky area and I think it would be magical to go and see the stars looming big in the dark sky.
We would start our day visiting some of Kielder Water and Forest Park. There is plenty to see, a maze which we missed last time we visited and I would love to explore. There is something exciting about getting lost in a maze which my son also enjoys. We would race to find the centre and I would share sweets that I had hidden in my bag when we got there.
Afterwards we would spend some time exploring the forest and go on one of the forest trails. We would have a picnic lunch under the trees and have fun finding different types of trees and seeing what birds we could spot. We would then relax by one of the lakes and feed the birds. The Ospray Centre is near here and this is the time of year to spot the Ospray chicks from the hide which would be a great adventure.
You never know we may even spot other types of bird or maybe a Red Squirrel, they are found in Kielder Water.
When it got dark we would head to Kielder Observatory where we would have booked one of their star spotting experiences. We would watch fascinated at the dark skies overhead and the large stars, learning a lot about them as we watched. We would drive home under the dark sky, tired but happy. Seeing us though the adventure would be our Ugg footwear.
I would wear the Gershwin boots (£225), they are sturdy and hardwearing and look comfy enough for long walks. My son would wear the Maple kids books (£90) and my husband would choose the Hannen boots (£235). These all look perfect to see us though a days exploring.
This is my entry into the Uggs Classic Day Out competition.
I love watching Come Dine With Me, it is great seeing the mix of people and the dishes they come up with. When Russell Hobbs got in touch to say they were celebrating the release of their new Illumina range with a come dine with me blogger challenge I had to take part. The idea was that I would get together with three other bloggers, one of us would cook a starter, one a main course and one a dessert. I was paired (or should that be tripled) with the lovely Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews and the equally lovely Galina from Chez Maximka. I got the task of creating the dessert so all this week I have been watching to see what they create. It’s a shame we can’t sit down and meet up in real life as I am sure we would have a great time. I think we would be chatting for hours.
We started off on Monday with the starter, over on Madhouse Family Reviews Cheryl created some Briouates. These are not something I have tried before, they are a middle eastern filo pastry stuffed dish. We had two different varieties, ham and leek and cheese and pineapple and I must admit they looked delicious. On Wednesday Galina from Chez Mazima tackled the main course. She served up some gorgeous looking lamb shanks with dates and pomegranates, continuing the middle eastern theme. I love dates and the lamb shanks looked really tasty. It was the perfect combination of flavours. Now it is my turn and for dessert I am serving Strawberry Parfait with a crunchy topping. This will be followed by coffee.
In the programme Come Dine With Me half the fun is creating the meal. Luckily Russell Hobbs had kindly sent me their Illumina Hand Mixer to help me whip up my dessert. I was delighted to find that the Illumina hand mixer comes with dough hooks as well as the whisk attachment. The Illumina range glows a different colour depending which speed setting you are using which lets you see at a glance what you are doing. It is also really easy to use as my son demonstrated. He was fascinated by the turbo button which allows you to whisk large batches up quickly. I really liked the way the cable wrapped neatly round the mixer with a special grip so it can be stored easily.
The dessert is simple enough to make. First you make the strawberry base, which is strawberries chopped into pieces and heated with water and sugar until it softens. This is placed in the base of the dessert glass. My son then whipped up some cream with a touch of vanilla essence to make the second layer. The crunchy topping was a mixture of crunchy nut cornflakes and flaked almonds coated in melted butter and brown sugar. It looks really elegant and tastes gorgeous.
It is also a nice sweet way to end off a meal whilst not being too heavy. Hopefully my guests will enjoy it and we will linger over coffee afterwards.
A light summer dessert
- 500g strawberries
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- 20g caster sugar
- 45 ml water
- 200ml double cream
- 55g butter
- 110g dark brown sugar
- 40g crunchy nut cornflakes
- 10g flaked almonds
- Chop the strawberries into small pieces and add to a pan.
- Add the water, caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence to the pan.
- Cook over a medium heat for about until the strawberries are soft.
- Leave to cool then distribute evenly amongst four dessert glasses.
- Place the cream and a teaspoon of vanilla essence into a bowl.
- Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Divide amongst the glasses.
- Melt the butter gently in a pan with the sugar.
- When melted add the cornflakes and almonds and mix until well combined.
- Allow to cool slightly then add some of the mixture to the top of each glass.
- Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
Dragons and Fairy Dust http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/
Disclosure: I was sent the Illumina hand mixer and some shopping vouchers in order to create a dessert recipe for the challenge.
I have been on a mission to clean out my cupboards and use up all the sachets and seasonings that are lurking inside them before I buy any more. The other day I needed to make a quick meal, we had all come in from work and school and were starving. I had a sachet of fajita seasoning in my cupboard that I hadn’t used. Normally I tend to buy fajita kits so I have the wraps as well as the seasoning but in this instance I had the seasoning but not the wraps. Luckily I did have some Jus Rol pastry in the freezer so I took inspiration from their advert. You know the one where the woman comes in from work, unrolls a sheet of pastry, chops up some chicken and pesto fries it up and bungs it on top on the pastry. She then produces a gorgeous tart from the oven which all the family tuck into. Luckily I had some chicken so I decided to try making a chicken fajita tart.
It was really simple to make, I chopped up an onion, some mushrooms and some red and yellow peppers and threw them into a frying pan with some diced chicken. When the chicken was nearly cooked I added the sachet of fajita seasoning. I then unrolled a sheet of Jus Rol placed it on a baking sheet, added the chicken to the top and placed it in a pre-heated oven for fifteen minutes.
The finished result was delicious and it hadn’t taken long to make at all. If I had made my own pastry it would have taken much longer. I know how to make shortcrust pastry, I still have memories of my domestic science teacher telling me half fat to flour as the ratio for shortcrust. Puff pastry is a bit of a mystery though and I have never made it. It is much easier just to unroll a sheet of Jus Rol and make a gorgeous creation. My family loved the dish as well and I will definitely be trying it again.
Chicken Fajita Tart
- One onion
- Four mushrooms
- A red pepper
- A yellow pepper
- Three chicken breasts
- A sachet of fajita seasoning
- A sheet of jus roll puff pastry
- Preheat the oven to 200 C
- Chop the onions, mushrooms and peppers and add to a frying pan with some oil.
- Dice the chicken and when the onions, mushrooms and peppers are soft add them to the pan.
- When the chicken is cooked stir in the fajita seasoning and mix well.
- Remove from the heat.
- Place a sheet of Jus Rol puff pastry onto a baking sheet. Add the chicken mixture to the top.
- Bake in the oven for fifteen minutes until the pastry is cooked
Dragons and Fairy Dust http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/
Disclosure: I was sent some Jus Rol pastry in order to do an honest review.