Spiced Apple And Blackcurrant Cupcakes With Fruit Shoot

During the summer I was challenged by Fruit Shoot to get out and about andtake part in some foraging with the little ones.

It was a great way to get the kids active and let them see how readily available fresh food packed with goodness really is.

Fruit Shoot has really taken this on board when creating their juices which are packed with real fruit, no flavours, no colouring and plenty of added vitamins.

They are really passionate about getting kids to eat well and with this in mind they created a fantastic hamper full of goodies to grow, bake and create lots of tasty, fruity recipes at home which they kingly sent to me.

The recipe that really stood out for me was the spiced apple and blackcurrant cupcakes that was devised by recipe creator-Holly Bell.

The one minor problem that we had was that there was a distinct lack of blackcurrants here so we had a little change around and substituted them for blackberries instead which worked pretty well.

Oscar had a great time getting his hands dirty and cooking up a storm.

I love getting the little ones involved in the whole process of cooking and with the addition of the blackberries it was the perfect time to recall our foraging trip.

If you fancy having a go yourself then I have left the recipe for you below, I would love to see how you get on.

Spiced Apple And Berry Cupcakes

  • 175ml oil
  • 180g muscavado sugar
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 160g grated apple
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • 150g of backcurrants or blackberries

Preheat the oven to 180C/has mark 4 and line a 12 hope cupcake tin with large cupcake or muffin cases.

Once the oven has preheated mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until there aren’t any lumps or traces of egg yolk visible. Pay particular attention to the sugar as it can sit in lumps.

Stir through the berries carefully, spoon into cases evenly and bake for 20-25 mins until well risen and a toothpick comes out of the middle of the cupcake clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Making Snack Time Healthy With Sweetpea Pantry

We are all back into the swing of things as far as the school run goes here and all the good intentions of wholesome packed lunches and after school snacks have been wavering a little.

The kids are coming home with untouched food in their pack lunches and with the stress of trying to juggle everything after school we have been reaching for the crisps and biscuits a little to often of late.

What I need is something that takes as little time to prepare as possible, is healthy and nutritious but appealing to the kids.

This is a big wish list but luckily enough our favourite baking mixes Sweetpea Pantry have come to our rescue with their scrumptious carrot cupcake mix and their super-duper brownie mix.

We are big fans of their ginger giggles biscuit mix and the playful pizza dough mix already and were eager to try out these new additions.

For me it’s really important to get the children involved in the whole process of preparing their food as I strongly believe this goes a long way to make them more inclined to try new things and gives them a real sense of achievement.

The preparation of both these mixes was so quick and easy – in fact the whole process is complete in less than 30 mins.

There was the addition of few simple store cupboard ingredients such as oil, honey and eggs all mixed together with the packet mix that is then transferred into cake cases or tins, baked for around 15 mins and is then ready to eat.

Each mix is packed full of nutritious ingredients and yummy whole grains whilst leaving all the nasty refined sugars and artificial colours and flavourings out.

The super chocolatey brownies where a great hit after school when the kids are crying out for something sweet really quickly.

The cupcakes were moist and fruity and the perfect size for packed lunch boxes.

These mixes are so easy to tuck away in the cupboard and just grab as and when you need them so what is not to love.

*collaborated post

Learning To Cook With Jamie Oliver’s Hotpoint Teaching Kitchen

How many of you cook your evening meal from scratch every night?

I would hazard a guess that it won’t be many of you and as research from Jamie’s Ministry Of Food shows this sadly the case for many of us.

In fact a huge 1 in 5 adults rely on takeaways and convenience food due to a lack of knowledge in cooking skills and a whopping 1 in 10 have never cooked from scratch.

For me one of my favourite lessons at school was home economics and was actually the only A I got at GCSE.

It was an outlet away from the more academic subjects that I never thrived in and it certainly gave me a great knowledge of food preparation and nutrition that has always stayed with me.

Sadly in many schools this is not on the timetable at all now and 7 in 10 people feel the rise in takeaways and convience food has been greatly affected by this.

This makes for a vicious cycle of parents then not having the knowledge to pass down to their children creating a nation with little knowledge on food at all.

I was shocked to find that 1 in 5 can’t boil an egg, a quarter struggle to cook rice and a third of the people asked lack the skills to correctly cut an onion.

For these reasons Jamie’s Ministry Of Food has got together with Hotpoint to create a fantastic teaching kitchen that is setting up in the towns where obesity and diet related illnesses are at a high.

I was asked along to have a lesson at the truck earlier this week in Selhurst, South London.

I arrived in the car park of Crystal Palace Football Club which seemed like a pretty strange place to be learning to cook.

The truck was nothing liked I expected and was in fact a spectacularly kitted out set up with high tech appliances from Hopoint and plenty of natural light to make for a fantastic area to learn new skills.


Although I would say I’m a pretty confident cook my repertoire has become pretty limited due to cooking for a large family with limited time.

To be honest the majority of my meals are prepared from scratch but I’m a bit of a one pot fan and I was hoping this lesson would open my eyes to creating something new for the family.

Any nerves I had about starting the session were soon quashed when the super friendly chefs introduced themselves and started the afternoon.

Our mission was to prepare a beautiful dish of salmon teriyaki from scratch which is one of my favourite meals but something I’ve not tried to create mysel.

Each step was shown to us and then as we went through the process ourselves there was plenty of experts on hand to help out at any stage.


I learned some great tips on food wastage and an entirely new way to cook rice that I will be trying out at home!



Children as young as 7 can go along to take part and I think this would be the perfect way to introduce little ones to the exciting world of cooking and sparking off something that could turn into a real passion for them.

The truck is in Selhurst until 16th June and you can book your slot HERE for free.

It is then moving onto Bristol, Middlesborough, Sunderland and Liverpool.

There is then an exciting opportunity for one community to win the chance to have the truck come to your town.

All you need to do is post a picture on social media showing members of your local community such as a youth group or scout troop holding wooden spoons.

Simply let them know the name of your town and why they are deserving and is the hashtag #cookforchange.

I would love to know if you decide to visit the truck and if you do what you think!

Celebrating National Pizza Day With Sweetpea Pantry

Who doesn’t like pizza would be an easier question to ask than who does.
Pizza is the the most popular choice when it comes to takeaways with pepperoni coming in as the top choice; and if you thought pizza was a relatively new thing you would be very far from the truth as the first ever pizzeria was opened in Italy way back in 1738!

There are a whole variety of toppings available now and as a family we love evenings of making up our own combinations.

It is the perfect meal to allow everyone to get hands on and pick the things they they really like.

To celebrate National Pizza Day I have joined up with the lovely people at Sweetpea Pantry who challenged us to create on own pizza using their fab Playful Pizza Dough Mix.

A while ago we were lucky enough to try out their Ginger Giggles Biscuit Mix and were more than impressed with the child friendly mixes that are easy to prepare, healthy and great fun.

The Playful Pizza Mix lived up to what I expected and created the perfect base to make our creation.


I decided to steer away from the norm and create a sweet pizza but keeping  sugar to a minimum with a few products that are low in sugar but still taste good.

Take a look and see if it is something you fancy giving a try, it would actually be the perfect treat for Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Heart Pizza

  • Pack of Playful Pizza Dough
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g dairy free milk choc chips
  • 50g dairy free white choc chips
  • 300g Jim Jams reduced sugar hazelnut spread
  • 50g freedom vegetarian mini marshmallows
  • Handful of raspberries
  1. Mix the dough according to the instructions.
  2. Once ready take one of the three dough balls and create a heart shape leaving a slight lip around the edge to create the crust.
  3. Prick the dough with a fork and cook for 10 mins.
  4. Take out and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Next take the hazelnut spread and cover the base.
  6. Sprinkle over the chocolate chips first, followed by the marshmallows and finally add a few raspberries to the very top.
  7. Place under the grill until the marshmallows have slightly toasted and the chocolate has melted slightly.

Let me know if you give this a try as I would love to know what you think!

Christmas Microwave Mug Cake


Christmas is a hugely busy time for all of us with shopping to do, family to visit and lots of other fun celebrations going on it can sometimes leave us with very little time to get things done.

I’m always trying to find ways to maximise my time, especially in the kitchen!

One of my saviours in the kitchen is the microwave and I think that microwaves in the UK are a much used kitchen appliance.

They don’t just have to be used just for boring tasks such as defrosting or reheating though. 

One of my favourite things to make is a super simple mug cake, and I have come up with a lovely festive fruit one just in time for Christmas that tastes great and saves hours compared to a traditional baked cake.

Christmas Microwave Mug Cake


Makes two large mug cakes.

  • 150g self raising flour
  • 100g sugar
  • 60ml oil
  • 4tbsp golden syrup
  • 4tbsp dried mixed fruit
  • 3tbsp flaked almonds
  • 1/2tsp all spice
  1. Steep the fruit in boiling water for five minutes.
  2. Once the fruit is nicely plumped mix together with the sugar, oil, syrup, and nuts.
  3. Lastly mix in the flour and spice.
  4. Lightly grease two large mugs and separate the ingredients between them.
  5. Place in the microwave on high for two mins.
  6. Allow to cool slightly and serve. They would taste great with some thick custard or double cream.

    *collaborated post  

    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.

    Gooey Chocolate BBQ Cones


    We had our first experience of camping at a festival this weekend and I really wanted to try out some tasty treats that were easy to prepare with limited space but we’re still a little bit special.

    We had decided that disposable BBQs were going to be our best friend as we could quickly prepare the food and throw everything away when we were done.

    The whole family has a sweet tooth so something sticky and chocolaty would be the perfect treat.  Take a look at these yummy cones if this is the kind of thing that takes your fancy too!

    Gooey Chocolate BBQ Cones

    Makes 10

    • Pack 10 waffle cones
    • 200g milk chocolate
    • Large pack of marshmallows
    • 120g cadburys nibbles
    • Punnet of strawberries
    1. Break chocolate into pieces, cut marshmallows into half and quarter the strawberries.
    2. Take out the cones and equally divide the chocolate, marshmallows, nibbles and strawberries between each of them.
    3. Wrap the cones separately in tin foil and place on the BBQ when it is just warm at the end of your main cooking.
    4. Leave to warm through for around 10mins, remove and serve.  They would be perfect with a big blob of vanilla ice cream.