Energy Saving Cooking With Ian Cumming And Smart Energy GB

As you can imagine a family of seven run up pretty high energy bills.  With lights being left on, gaming devices flashing away and the washing machine on constantly our house is using up energy at a rapid rate for a large part of the day.

The problem is until the shock of the bill comes in, as a family we do very little to conserve this energy and this in turn has a detrimental effect on the environment as well as our pockets!

When I was asked along by Smart Energy GB to take a look at their new smart meter and try some recipes that had been deviced by Ian Cumming from ‘Great British Bake Off’ to save energy I was extremely excited to see how it would all work.

All across the country there is a huge roll out of these smart meters that allows all the information on your gas and electricity usage go directly to your provider making your bill more accurate and cutting out the need to have your meter read from home.  In addition to this you have an in-home display that allows you to see in pounds and pence exactly how your energy is being used.

For me seeing the money racking up in front of my eyes would make me way more aware of everything I was spending day to day and make me find ways to cut the costs.

In our house the cooking is solely down to me and I have to admit although I am very thrifty when it comes to the food shopping the amount of money it costs to cook the meals has never really entered my head.

I was lucky enough to be able to sample some wonderful dishes that had been created in an eco friendly way by the lovely Ian Cumming.

Ian served up a succulent chicken and lemon tagine that was cooked in a slow cooker which uses less energy than a light bulb, a scrumptious Scottish salmon macaroni cheese that was cooked under the grill rather than in the oven and using pasta that was cooked simply by covering once the water was at boiling point and left to soften from the heat that has been retained, a to die for elderflower, honey and blueberry cheesecake that used no enery at all and some super tasty feta and spinach buns that I gave a go at making myself.


All of these recipes were super easy to make and could save you a lot of money in the long term.

If you would like to check them out then take a look at this video to find out more.

I came away from the afternoon with a full belly and full mind of all these ideas that I couldn’t wait to put into practice.

Kitchen Equipment Galore With Kenwood And DeLonghi 

A few weeks ago I was asked along to the Kenwood and DeLonghi press preview.

I am a sucker for kitchen gadgets and live off copious amounts of coffee so this was right up my street!

Upon arriving at the venue in West London I was greeted by rooms full of super enthusiastic people all ready to show what off these great new gadgets could do.

My first stop was to see Simon from Pasta Remoli.  We had met before whilst I was doing a review for his wonderful restaurant and I knew that he would be full of passion whilst demonstrating how to make georgous, fresh pasta using the Kenwoods Chef Sense food processor.


I was initially really taken with the wonderful colours they came in that would look wonderful on any kitchen worktop.

The food processor comes with a huge array of attachments including the pasta maker that Simon was demonstrating.



He made sheets of perfect pasta with ease  that were then turned in to the tastiest tortellini I’ve tried.

From here I sampled some healthy smoothies and delicious ice cream, all of which took minutes to make.

The whole range of Kenwood applicances were easy to use and more than pleasing on the eye.  The food processor has been firmly placed on top of my Christmas list.


From here I was taken on a real coffee journey  from roasting my own beans to enjoying the finished product with a slice of cake.


My eyes were opened up to what an intricate process it takes to get that cup of coffee we all grab to start our day.

We have been looking at coffee machines for a while now and after being introduced by DeLonghi’s new super machine any other will have a lot of living up to!


All of their machines produce fabulous coffee in a few easy steps, even for a technophobe like me.

The top of range machine has the best feature I have seen before though.  A downloadable app can be set up so that you can have your own truly personalised coffee at the touch of your iPad screen.

Think back to the ‘teas made’ era and here you have the much improved version.


I came home with my head buzzing with new ideas and a huge lists of gadgets I would love to try out in the future.

Elevenses Recipe Book Launch

  

Stopping for tea and cake at eleven is a quintessentially English tradition that also stands firm in the work place with all of us nipping away from the desk to grab a quick snack.

Some of use like to opt for the healthy option of a smoothie or a piece of fruit whist others would rather indulge in a chocolaty treat or a nice sticky bun.

Whatever your preference there is a need for an energy boost at this time as our sugar levels dip and our next meal is not until lunchtime.  So something to tide us over and keep us going for those next few hours is much needed.

The people at Furniture At Work have compiled a great book with a selection of recipes from a group of Blogger’s, including myself which can offer something from a super healthy treat to something a little bit naughty!

If you fancy taking a look you can download the link here. There really is something to suit everyone and help you get though that workday.

Allergy Friendly Strawberry Cupcakes

Valentines Day is fastly become a big celebration in the UK with it being a day not just for couples but something that the children now join in with.

My older children all attend Valentines  discos at school and the younger ones have made some beautiful cards at school.

To be honest for me it should be something special left for couples to enjoy but im going with the flow and letting the kids join in with the celebrations too!

Number four wanted to do some baking this week so we went with a pink theme and made some strawberry flavoured cupcakes that were suitable for his allergies.


Strawberry Flavoured Cupcakes

Cake Mixture

  • 110g self raising wheat free flour
  • 110g dairy free margarine 
  • 110g caster sugar
  • Egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp strawberry flavouring
  • 1tsp red colouring

Buttercream Frosting 

  • 140g dairy free margarine
  • 250c icing sugar
  • Few drops red colouring
  • Strawberry flavoured sparkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4 and lay out 12 cake cases ready for filling.
  2. Best the butter and sugar together, add the egg replacer, flavouring and food colouring.
  3. Fold in the flour until completely mixed.  Then transfer to cake cases.
  4. Cook for 10 mins then place in a wire rack to cool.
  5. Make up the buttercream by combining the margarine with the sugar and then mixing in the food colouring.
  6. Once the cakes are cooled place the butter cream on top and pull a fork over the top to create a rough surface and then sprinkle over the strawberry sparkles.

Mincemeat Pinwheels


A mince pie is a must at Christmas, especially washed own with a nice glass of mulled wine!Sometimes the traditional mince pie can get a little boring.  My Grandma always used to make her mince pies with puff pastry and I always liked the lightness of this so I have made something a little different by tuning them into pinwheels that are a little like a Chelsea bun minus the icing.

Mincemeat Pinwheels

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 large jar minced meat
  • I beaten egg
  • Sprinkling of granulated sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200C or 180C fan oven whilst lining A large baking tray with greasproof paper.
  2. Lightly sprinkle the sugar over the worktop and roll out the pastry so increase they’re size by about another 6cm.
  3. Take the mincemeat and spread across the pastry leaving a border of around 2cm on each long edge.
  4. Once covered take one long edge and roll I into the mincemeat and keep rolling until you make a long sausage shape.
  5. Brush the beaten egg along the last free edge and stick together. Place this in the fridge and cool for around 20mins.  Once cooled remove from the fridge and cut into slices about 4cm wide.  Place into the baking sheet and press down with the ball of your hand to flatten slightly.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 20mins or until they are golden brown.
  7. Once ready allow to cool for 5mins and the serve warm.  They would be yummy with a big dollop of double cream!  

Allergy Friendly Christmas Cup Biscuits

 

There is nothing better than a lovely warming cup of hot chocolate and a yummy biscuit with the cold weather in the lead up to Christmas.
I’ve made some pretty biscuits that are allergy friendly and can be balanced on the side of your favourite mug or cup and decorated any way you like.


Christmas Cup Biscuits 

  • 300g Gluten free flour
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 150g dairy free margarine
  • 1 egg equivalent of egg replacer
  • 2tsp all spice
  • 250g icing sugar
  • Juice half an orange
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas Mark 4 whilst lining two large baking trays with greasproof paper.
  2. Mix together the flour, and sugar and then rub together the butter and egg replacer to make fine breadcrumbs.  Leave it in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
  3. Once chilled roll out onto a floured surface until it is about 1cm thick.  Take any festive cutter you like and cut out the shapes.  Once out then cut a small rectangle into the bottom of each biscuit slightly larger than the rim of your cup.
  4. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes whist mixing the icing sugar and orange juice to make the icing.
  5. Once the biscuits have been taken out and cooled place your icing into a piping bag and pipe on your design.
  6. When the icing has set serve on the side of a cup of hot chocolate.


 

Super Yummy Banana Cake

Who doesn’t have those few browning bananas left in the fruit bowl that nobody really wants but it is always such a shame to throw away.

What better way to use them up than to make a super yummy banana cake that the whole family will enjoy.

I came across this recipe on Cerea’s Kitchen blog  and jiggled it around a little so it was also perfect for my little allergy boy too.

Banana Cake

  • 5 bananas
  • 50ml maple syrup
  • 130g rolled oats 
  • 150g wheat free flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 75g coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 60ml melted coconut oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 360F or 180C and lightly grease a square baking tin with coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl mash the bananas and add the coconut oil, sugar, vanilla extract, vinegar, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.   
  3. Next mix in the oats, flour and baking soda.
  4. Finally add the mixture to the tin and cake for around 35-40mins.   

  

   
  

  

Allergy Friendly Pizzas

Saturday nights should be about rubbish food and easy watching TV with the family. 

With number four’s allergies the biggest no no is pizza so instead of ordering a big greasy takeaway we love to get the kids involved and make our own pizzas so that number four doesn’t get to miss out on the fun.

This allergy friendly pizza crust recipe is fine for the whole family but to be honest the others prefer a normal base.

We let the children chose which topping they like and let them get on and get creative.

   
 

Here is my pizza crust recipe if you fancy giving it a go:

Allergy Friendly Pizza Crust

  • 450g Wheat Free Flour
  • 3/4tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2tsp Baking Powder
  • 1tsp Sugar
  • 1tbsp Yeast
  • 360ml Warm Water
  • 1tbsp Olive Oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C 160CFan or gas Mark 5.
  2. Combine half the water with the yeast and leave for about five minutes.  Add the sugar after the first few minutes.
  3. In another bowl add the flour and baking powder and mix well.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the yeast mixture, oil and the rest of the water.  Stir well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Take the dough and place onto a floured surface and form your pizza base.  Place into a lightly greased tray and cook for around 30mins.
  6. Remove from the oven and cover with a tomato sauce base and your favourite ingredients.
  7. Place back into the oven and cook for another 20 mins.

    

We had a selection of cheese, ham, pepperoni, sweetcorn, olives and peppers.

   
 

The children loved the whole process and cleared their plates.

What is your favourite pizza topping?
  

  

  

Allergy Free Apple, Blackberry And Rhubarb Crumble

  
I love nothing more than saving a few pennies on the food shop so today we headed into town to pick up some bargains from the butchers and the greengrocer.  On the way back we stopped and picked a few handfuls of blackberries that are still around.

During the summer I very rarely make any puddings so as the weather is now on the turn I thought tonight would be great to have a yummy crumble. 

This recipe is great if you suffer with food allergies but can easily be converted to your usual ingredients.

Allergy Free Apple, Blackberry And Rhubarb Crumble

  • 120 wheat free flour
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 60g dairy free spread
  • 150g cooking apples
  • 30g demerara sugar
  • 30g dairy free spread
  • 100g blackberries
  • 150grhubarb
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan or Gas Mark 5.  
  2. Add 60g dairy free spread, sugar and flour to a bowl a drub together making a breadcrumb like mixture.
  3. Next put the 30g of dairy free spread and demerara sugar onto a saucepan and melt together for a few minutes.  Stir in the rhubarb and apple along with the cinnamon and cook for a few minutes.  Add the blackberries and cook for another couple of minutes.  Remove from the heat and place into a deep gratin dish.
  4. Lastly poor the crumble mixture over the top and place in the oven for around twenty minutes.

  
Sadly we forgot the custard so had it served by itself. I think we might have to get some for the leftovers tomorrow!

What is your favourite fruit to add to a crumble?

 

   

Baker Days Cake Review And Givaway

  

With our anniversary only a week away I was so happy to be asked by the fabulous Baker Days to review their ingenious letter box cakes.  There was a large range of designs to choose from and lots of yummy flavours. I opted for a personalised cake so that I could have one of our wedding pictures on the top.

When I first read that the cake would be sent in the post and simply popped thought the letterbox I must admit I was a little sceptical on what it would look like on arrival.  I was amazed that when I opened the box and the pretty tin it was presented it there was a lovely, perfectly intact cake inside.

  
The image covered the entire cake and not just a topper like you normally get.  It was perfect for a reminder of our special day.

We are a greedy family but this would easily give you four good sized portions.  The cake itself was soft and moist and the icing was wonderfully sweet.

  
I will definitely  be using Bakerdays in the future and would be very interested in trying out the personalised cupcakes as I find these a good option for children’s birthday parties as they save on the fuss of party bags.

If you would like to try one of these great letterbox cakes for yourself then  click here to enter.

I was given this product by Bakerdays to review and all my opinions are an honest view of what I thought.