Apple & Cinnamon Muffins with Crumble Topping

Apple & Cinnamon Muffins

Apple and cinnamon is one of my all time favourite combinations and the two flavours come together beautifully in these muffins. The crumble topping can be omitted but it adds a bit of extra bite and texture and reminds me of the apple & cinnamon muffins that Starbucks used to sell. These are perfect for putting in lunch boxes for a sweet treat – yes, they contain sugar but they beat shop bought biscuits and cereal bars hands down in my book.

Ingredients (makes around 12 muffins):

  • 100 g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence 
  • 200 ml milk 
  • Grated zest from one lemon
  • 200 g plain flour 
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt

Filling:

  • 3 large apples
  • 1 tbsp butter for frying
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Crumble topping:

  • 75 g cold butter
  • 50 g rolled oats
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 80 g sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. In a bowl whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Melt the butter and add to the egg mixture along with the milk and lemon zest.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl before adding to the batter.
  3. Cut the apples into small slices and fry them in butter, sugar and cinnamon. Let them cool down slightly.
  4. Add the apples to the batter and and fill up paper cases placed in a muffin tray until 2/3 full.
  5. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and pinch together with the oats, flour and sugar in a bowl.
  6. Scatter some crumble on top of each muffin.
  7. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes.

NB: I had a lot of crumble topping left over so next time I will either halve the quantities or have some more fruit the ready to make an apple crumble at the same time.

 

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Recipe: White chocolate & lemon cake

lemon & white chocolate cake

One of the things I love about living in a country with distinct seasons is how the food that we eat changes as we move from one season to the next. In summer it’s all about fruit, salads, seafood, barbecues and chilled rose wine, preferably enjoyed al fresco with the warm sun beating down. As the weather gets colder I start to crave richer and heavier foods like casseroles, lasagne (with or without the pasta), apple pie, and look forward to sipping hot chocolate or red wine in front of an open fire.

I’m sure my waistline would benefit from living in a warmer climate but my taste buds would definitely miss the autumnal fare. I am starting to draw up a list of recipes that I want to try this season but in the meantime this lemon and white chocolate cake is perfect for the Indian summer we’re having at the moment when it’s still warm enough to enjoy a cup of coffee and slice of cake out in the garden.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g white chocolate
  • 2 egg
  • 200 ml sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 250 ml plain flour
  • Grated zest from one lemon and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

 

  1. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy
  2. Melt the butter and stir in the chocolate. Add to the bowl
  3. Stir in the flour, lemon zest and juice
  4. Pour the batter into a greased loose base cake tin
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes in the middle of the oven at 200 degrees
  6. Sift over some icing sugar and serve with raspberries and whipped cream

Super Smoothies

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When life gets busy it’s easy to let healthy eating habits slip and instead reach for sugary snacks as a quick pick-me-up. Having a smoothie for breakfast helps ensure that you get at least two or three of your five a day and, if you add some superfoods, it will also keep your energy levels high, boost your immune system and stave off sugar cravings. The lovely people at Indigo Herbs sent me a big box crammed full of some of their best-selling healthy goodies such as wheatgrass, spirulina, bee pollen and Acai powder. Time to dust off the smoothie maker and get creative!

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First up was this smoothie made from mango, bananas, orange juice and a teaspoon or two of organic Acai powder, organic wheatgrass powder, organic Maca powder, and organic raw banana powder. To find out more about the health benefits of these superfoods, check out the Indigo Herbs website.

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Next, I tried a blueberry and banana smoothie with some added spirulina powder, banana powder and bee pollen granules. I was especially intrigued to try the latter as I had just read an interview with Victoria Beckham in Vogue where she was enthusing about bee pollen’s wrinkle busting properties and other health benefits. It has quite a coarse texture and I found that even after a thorough whizzing in the blender, there were quite a few large bits floating around in the smoothie. It still had a great flavour, although I preferred the first combination of ingredients.

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I also tried sprinkling some bee pollen granules on my morning muesli and that, to me, was a better way of eating it.

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A small, family run company based in Glastonbury, Indigo Herbs prides itself on only supplying the best organic, wild crafted or quality assured products available. All the powders came in generously sized packaging, so there’s plenty left for me to try more recipes. Ordering via the website couldn’t be easier and, although they will not give specific nutritional or medical advice, the knowledgeable team are happy to talk customers through the various products on offer.

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Raspberry Jam Biscuits

Hallongrottor 2

These biscuits are a real favourite of mine. In Swedish they’re called Hallongrottor which translates to ‘raspberry caves’ and they remind me a bit of jammy dodgers although they’re much nicer than the shop bought ones. They also freeze really well so I like to whip up a big batch and keep for impromptu coffee mornings.

Ingredients:

200g butter at room temperature

100ml caster sugar

1tbsp vanilla essence

450ml plain flour

1tsp baking powder

150ml raspberry jam

Hallongrottor 3

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees

2. Stir together the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth and light. Mix the flour with the baking powder in a separate bowl before working in to the dough.

3. Divide the dough into 20 pieces of equal size and roll into round balls. Place in muffin cases and, using your finger, make a small indentation in the middle.

4. Fill the indentations with raspberry jam and bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes.

Hallongrottor 1

Recipe: Fish Soup with Homemade Aioli

Fish Soup 1

“Soup!?” I hear you say, “in the middle of summer?!”

And you’re right, I probably wouldn’t choose to have this for lunch on a scorching hot day but eaten, as we did, at the end of a rainy summer’s day, it was simply delicious. Just add some crisp salad, crusty bread (gluten free in our case) and a glass of chilled white wine and you have the perfect light supper.

Recipe:

Serves 4
2 cod fillets, cut into cubes
3 salmon fillets, cut into cubes
1 onion
1 garlic clove
A generous handful of cooked prawns
1 tin of tomato soup (around 500g)
300ml double cream
150ml water
salt & pepper

Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in butter in a saucepan. Add the water and cream and bring to the boil. Add the fish and allow to simmer over a medium heat for around 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the fish pieces). Pour over the tomato soup, season with salt and pepper and simmer for a while longer. Add the prawns and allow to heat through.

Fish soup 2

Aioli:

1 egg yolk
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
A pinch of salt
2-3 garlic cloves
Approx 200ml neutral oil (eg rapeseed oil)

Mix together egg yolk, vinegar, mustard and salt in a bowl. Whisk with an electric whisk and add the oil gradually. Continue to whisk until all the oil is added and the mixture has the texture of a thick mayonnaise. Add a small amount of water (approx 1/2-1 tbsp) and whisk some more so it becomes whiter and looser. Add the garlic using a garlic crusher and refrigerate the aioli for a while before serving.

Fish soup 3

 

 

Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara

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Spaghetti Carbonara is one of those classic dishes that everyone seems to have a slightly different recipe for, although the basics (eggs, pancetta, parmesan) remain the same. My husband makes ‘proper’ Carbonara without the cream, instead adding white wine and a sprinkling of nutmeg as per Nigella Lawson’s recipe. It’s very tasty but I’m pleased to say that the kids prefer my version! In fact, this is my eldest son’s favourite dish and he always requests it on special occasion or when he is having a friend over for tea.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

400g Spaghetti

3 Egg yolks

100ml Double cream

75ml Creme fraiche

75g Finely grated parmesan

Black pepper

150g Cubed smoked pancetta

1 tbsp Olive oil

25g Butter

Method:

1. Boil the pasta in a pan of water with a bit of olive oil according to the packet instructions.

2. In a bowl combine the egg yolks, double cream, creme fraiche, parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper.

3. Fry the pancetta in the olive oil until it starts to crisp and remove from the heat until the pasta has cooked.

4. When the spaghetti is ready, drain and return it to the saucepan. Tip over the pancetta and butter.

5. Keeping the pan on a very low heat, pour over the egg mixture and stir it through until it thickens and coats all the strands of spaghetti.

6. Serve immediately with extra parmesan and black pepper.

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Pin-Worthy Summer Recipes

Lately I’ve been trying to add more vegetables to my diet. Now that summer is almost here, fresh produce is in abundance so it’s the ideal time to shift your healthy eating up a gear. I love salads but find that unless I add protein and/or grains, they don’t really fill me up and I’m hungry again an hour or two later. As always, Pinterest is an endless source of inspiration and I’ve been busy pinning a few recipes I would like to try over the next few weeks. Now, if only I could convince my two youngest kids that these dishes are so much nicer than pizza or plain pasta…

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Shrimp Tacos

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Chorizo, Tomato & Chickpea Salad

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Sesame, Almond, Avocado & Spinach Salad

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Butternut Squash and Barley Salad with Poached Egg

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Quinoa Tabbouleh with Chickpeas

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Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Onion Salad

Find all these recipes and more on my ‘Food’ board on Pinterest

Recipe: Vanilla Granola

Vanilla Granola

There is not much that beats a tasty bowl of granola with yoghurt and fresh fruit to set the day off to a good start in my book. The best granola I have ever eaten was a vanilla one created by the aptly named Hotel Vanilla in Gothenburg where we stayed for two nights a couple of years ago. I brought a bag of their granola home with me, but it ran out many moons ago, so I was thrilled to find a recipe for a very similar sounding vanilla granola on a Swedish baking blog. I have made a couple of minor adjustments by adding cinnamon and almonds, and the result is, in my opinion, nothing short of divine. When breakfast tastes this good it is definitely the best meal of the day!

280 g rolled oats
50 g mixed nuts and almonds
a good pinch of salt flakes

2 tsp cinnamon

100 ml water
80g sugar
3 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp vanilla essence

In a bowl mix together the oats, nuts, cinnamon and salt flakes. Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and simmer gently until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the oil and vanilla, then pour the liquid over the oat mixture and stir it all together. Spread the granola out on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and bake in the middle of the oven at 100C for approx 2 hours. Stir the mixture occasionally, every 20-30 minutes. Let the granola cool completely before transferring to an airtight jar.

Granola 2

Recipe: Apple Crumble Pie with Salt Flakes

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With Easter’s chocolate egg overload just behind us, I’m sure the last thing on anyone’s mind is more sweet treats. But I couldn’t resist sharing the recipe for this apple pie which I made for pudding when my parents came over for lunch last week. Trust me, it’s definitely one to file away for a rainy day: along with cottage pie and grilled cheese, apple pie/crumble must be one of the ultimate comfort foods. And don’t be alarmed by the salt flakes specified in the recipe – they provide a beautiful contrast to the sweet crumble topping and tart apple. And the secret to getting a really yummy caramelized topping? Drizzle some golden syrup over the pie before it goes in the oven.

Apple Crumble Pie with Salt Flakes

Filling:

approx 800 g apples
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
1 pinch salt flakes

Crumble topping:

125 g cold butter
140 g plain flour
25 g rolled oats
125 g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt flakes

Golden syrup

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 225°C and grease a pie dish (approx 28cm in diameter). Crumble topping: cut the butter into pieces. Pinch together butter, flour and oats to form a crumbly mixture. Add the sugar and salt flakes. Peel, core and cut the apples into thin slices before mixing with the cinnamon, sugar and salt. Put the apple slices in the bottom of the prepared pie dish and sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top. Drizzle some golden syrup over for a tasty toffee-like finish. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes. Let it cool slightly and serve with whipped cream, custard or ice cream.

NB: As my husband can’t eat gluten, I made this crumble with gluten free flour and oats. It worked really well.

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Easter Treats

As I’ve been working more than usual over the school holidays I haven’t had much time for baking, so it’s likely that my lot will have to make do with shop bought treats over the Easter weekend. But if you have the time, here are some of the most tasty (and pretty) looking recipes that I have found on Pinterest.

Easter Treats

1. Down the Rabbit Hole Cake Push Pops

2. Oreo Cookie Chick Easter Treats

3. Springtime Birds Nests

4. Easter Egg Fudge

5. Mini Easter Egg Cake

6. Healthy Easter Treats

For more Easter recipes and ideas see my Easter Inspiration board on Pinterest.